Obama's Defence Secy nominee adopts hard line on Iran

Chuck Hagel

Obama, he said, has put in place and pursued effectively – with support from the US Congress – a strong, multi-vector strategy to deal with the threats that Iran poses to the United States, particularly its nuclear pursuits.

This strategy has included a strong diplomatic effort to test Iranian intentions, lay the ground work for an international coalition that holds Tehran accountable for its transgressions, and isolate Iran in the region and globally.

"This strategy has credibly, and smartly in my opinion, made clear that all options are on the table. I believe that this strategy has made it clear to Iran that the United States will do what it must to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, and I will continue to implement this policy if confirmed," he said.

"I do believe that if Iran lives up to international obligations, it should have a path to a more prosperous and productive relationship with the international community and eventual rejoining of the community of nations," he added.

Hagel also said the threat posed by al-Qaeda to the US has diminished over the past four years, but expressed concern over the presence of the remaining leadership of the terrorist outfit in Pakistan and in Arabian Peninsula.

"I assess that the threat posed by al-Qaeda to the US homeland has been significantly diminished over the past four years. At the same time, al-Qaeda's remaining leadership in Pakistan and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula remains of serious concern," Hagel said in the written set of answers.

Additionally, the Arab Spring has created new opportunities for al-Qaeda affiliates in Syria and North Africa, Hagel said.

"Our sustained military, intelligence, and diplomatic efforts over the last ten years have brought us closer to the strategic defeat of core al-Qaeda. There can be no doubt, however, that al-Qaeda and associated forces remain potent, dangerous, and adaptable foes – as evidenced by its despicable actions in Benghazi and more recently in Algeria," he said.

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