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With vast long-range missile arsenal capable of reaching Israel, US general says Iran remains greatest Middle East threat

Nevertheless, Biden administration forges on with negotiations to revive nuclear deal with Iran

Illustrative - Fateh-110, Iranian ballistic surface-to-surface missile (Photo: Hossein Velayati/Wikimedia Commons)

While the Biden administration is racing toward a nuclear deal that could be signed imminently, one if its top military commanders warned that Iran remains America’s greatest threat in the Middle East.

“Iran continues to pose the greatest threat to U.S. interests and the security of the region as a whole. Through its proxies and clients, Iran has fomented conflict, an arc tracing from Yemen through the Arabian Peninsula, across Iraq and Syria and Lebanon and to the very borders of Israel,” U.S. Central Command’s Gen. Kenneth McKenzie told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.

Iran has amassed an arsenal of 3,000 long-range missiles, some of which can reach Tel Aviv, the soon-to-be retired general reported.

“None of them can reach Europe yet, but over the last five to seven years … they have invested heavily in their ballistic missile program,” McKenzie said. “Their missiles have significantly greater range and significantly enhanced accuracy.”

Nevertheless, McKenzie said the upcoming nuclear deal – despite being a “less than perfect solution” – was still necessary to reign in Iranian procurement of a nuclear weapon.

“It is an overriding national policy, the objective of the United States is for Iran not to have a nuclear weapon or to be able to possess a nuclear weapon,” McKenzie said. “So I think that’s a very important goal and you might have to make some tradeoffs to get to that point, but my concern is first of all that they not have a nuclear weapon.”

Former President Donald Trump said the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action benefited Iran and took the U.S. out of the deal that had been authored by his predecessor Barack Obama. Trump imposed crippling sanctions on Iran instead, but Tehran expanded its nuclear work and is just months away from producing enough high-grade enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon, according to the United Nations nuclear agency. 

U.S. President Joe Biden had said he would make a revival of the deal a priority, and he has followed through on his campaign promise. Negotiators meeting in Vienna this week say that the final details of a new deal are being hammered out.

Aside from missiles and nuclear weapons, McKenzie warned that Iran’s impressive fleet of drones posed another critical regional threat. This is something Israel is already aware of. According to reports, a large supply of Iranian drones was destroyed in an aerial attack last month. Iran blamed Israel for the attack, but the Jewish state has not officially assumed responsibility. 

He also predicted that Iran would continue using Syria and Iraq to funnel supplies and proceed with its “campaign against Israel.” Among other outlets, Iran operates through proxy groups such as Hezbollah based in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen.

Earlier this month, McKenzie – who is responsible for U.S. troops in the Middle East – met with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Jerusalem where the two discussed “common security challenges facing Israel and the United States, and above all Iran’s aggression in the region,” according to a statement from Bennett’s office.

“The prime minister also stressed the real danger of world powers signing the nuclear agreement [with Iran], if and when it occurs.”

Nicole Jansezian is the news editor for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and senior correspondent for ALL ISRAEL NEWS

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