AFP
Last updated: 26 July, 2011

US military nominee warns Iran

The nominee to be the next chief of the US military on Tuesday warned Iran not to pursue nuclear weapons or sponsor proxies in Iraq, saying it would be making a “serious miscalculation.”

At his Senate confirmation hearing, General Martin Dempsey called Iran a “destabilizing force” in the region. He pointed to its contested uranium program and said Iran was sponsoring forces against US forces in Iraq.

“With its nuclear activities and its surrogate activities in southern Iraq, there is a high potential that Iran will make a serious miscalculation of US resolve,” Dempsey, now the Army’s chief of staff, said in prepared testimony.

Dempsey said that Iran may be seeking a “Beirut-like moment” in Iraq — a reference to the devastating 1983 attack against US and French forces in the Lebanese capital claimed by Iranian-linked Islamic militants.

Dempsey said Iran wanted to “send a message that they have expelled us from Iraq.” The United States plans to pull its final troops out of Iraq at the end of the year, ending a deeply controversial military mission launched in 2003.

Iran has had tense relations with the United States since the 1979 Islamic revolution overthrew the pro-Western shah.

The United Nations has imposed four rounds of sanctions against Iran over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment. Western nations accuse Iran of seeking a nuclear bomb, while Tehran insists its nuclear drive is for civilian energy.