Joint Chiefs' Dunford: Iran complying with nuclear deal

By Allen Cone   |   Sept. 26, 2017 at 1:11 PM
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Sept. 26 (UPI) -- Iran is complying with terms of the 2015 deal banning Iran's development of nuclear arms, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Tuesday.

Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing to serve a second term as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

He wrote answers to policy questions, including on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action between Iran and the United States, China, France, Germany, Russia and Britain.

"The briefings I have received indicate that Iran is adhering to its JCPOA obligations," Dunford wrote. "The JCPOA has delayed Iran's development of nuclear weapons."

But he added: "Iran has not changed its malign activity in the region since JCPOA was signed."

Asked to expand on his answer during testimony, Dunford said the deal was specifically designed to address only Iran's nuclear program and not its missile program, its maritime threat, its support for proxies or its cyber activities.

"We see a physical manifestation of that in Yemen, we see it in Iraq, we see it in Lebanon, we see it in Syria," he said.

In the policy questions, he was asked "how does U.S. strategy seek to mitigate Iranian malign influence in Iraq?"

He answered: "A strong bilateral relationship between the United States and Iraq is one of our best tools to mitigate Iranian malign influence in Iraq. This is a whole-of-government effort and clearly goes beyond just security cooperation. Another critical component to mitigating Iranian influence is Iraq's reintegration in the region, highlighted most recently by diplomatic and economic initiatives between Iraq and Saudi Arabia and Jordan."

President Donald Trump, in a speech last week to the United Nations, called the deal an "embarrassment to the United States."

Trump twice has certified Iran's compliance with the deal as mandated by Congress.

Trump faces an Oct. 15 deadline to tell Congress whether Iran remains in compliance with the deal, which provided Tehran with billions of dollars of sanctions relief.

If Trump chooses not to recertify Iran's compliance, Congress will have 60 days to decide whether to re-impose sanctions.

On Tuesday, Dunford said it would "make sense to him" to recertify the deal because withdrawing would have ripple effects on the North Korea nuclear crisis.

"In today's extraordinarily dynamic and complex world, the United States faces simultaneous challenges from Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and violent extremist organizations," he said in his prepared answers.

Regarding North Korea, Dunford testified, "We haven't seen military activity that would be reflective of the charged political environment that we're seeing" between Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un.

In his prepared answers, he said, "While the fight would not be easy, I can assure you that the United States military, in coordination with our allies, is prepared to respond decisively and win should deterrence with North Korea fail."

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