SHANNON, Ireland, July 20 2015 – Time and Iranian behavior will determine whether the Iran nuclear pact has achieved its intended objective, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said today.
Speaking with reporters traveling with him, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey said the United States will carefully watch how the Iranian government uses the additional revenue it will gain from the agreement.
“There’s every reason to believe that the majority of it will be used to fix their economy that suffered under the sanctions,” he said. “But I also am alert to the possibility that some of it could be used to support the other malign activities.”
The general said he will watch Iranian capabilities and the ways they use them, noting that while the agreement deals with Iran’s nuclear ambitions, it does not cover other malign activities the country is involved in around the region.
The chairman said he recommends maintaining pressure on the non-nuclear sanctions to curb Iran’s weapons trading, its missile proliferation, its funding of surrogates and proxy forces, its cyberattacks and its maritime mines. “To me, it’s about time and Iranian behavior,” he stressed. “I think it is a little bit premature for me to be convinced that it will have a moderating effect or it will not.”
The agreement does not change the chairman’s military responsibilities in the region, Dempsey noted. “I’m still responsible for ensuring that we have the right military options in place, whether the agreement stands or fails,” the chairman said.
Dempsey said he was consulted on military aspects of the agreement, including the verification process and the non-nuclear sanctions.
Allies in the region are concerned that Iran will increase its efforts in these other malign areas. The Gulf states worry about the use of surrogates to undermine governments and about increasingly capable Iranian missiles. Israeli leaders worry about maintaining a qualitative edge over threats and about increased Iranian funding to the terror group Hezbollah.
Dempsey has spoken with and visited allies. “I’ve acknowledged those concerns, and I’ve said to them … whether there was a deal or no deal, I have work to do,” he said. “Now that there’s a negotiated agreement, my job is to … collaborate with allies in the Gulf and Israel to … increase our vigilance for the other activities and then to work with them to mitigate the threat that would be posed if [the Iranians] choose to use this revenue for malign purposes.”
The chairman said he sees no need to adjust U.S. forces in the region at this time. U.S. Central Command has a robust presence in the region, he added, with more than 40,000 personnel and some of the most sophisticated air, land and sea-based assets in and around the region.