Ayotte Questions Chairman Dempsey on Iran Threat
WASHINGTON, D.C. - During a Senate Budget Committee hearing today, U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) expressed concerns about Iran's nuclear ambitions with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey. Senator Ayotte is cosponsoring a bipartisan resolution expressing the Senate's commitment to preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. The resolution currently has more than 30 bipartisan cosponsors.
At today's hearing, Senator Ayotte expressed concern that if Iran succeeds in developing nuclear weapons, Iran could share them with terrorist groups who would use them to attack America and our allies.
"One of the things I'm most concerned about is that if they acquire a nuclear weapon, it's not just about their using it, but also the possibility...that they could provide that nuclear weapon to let others use on their behalf," said Senator Ayotte.
General Dempsey responded, "That is a real risk, as is the risk of nuclear proliferation by those, who feeling threatened, would seek to acquire their own nuclear weapons."
During the hearing, Senator Ayotte also asked General Dempsey to clarify his recent comments describing Iran as a 'rational actor.'
"Can you help me understand why you would have said that, particularly in a public interview?" she asked. "I'm really concerned that in doing that, we're sending the wrong signal to Iran."
In response, General Dempsey said, "I agree that Iran is a regime that is dangerously misguided. Look at its behavior - it protects itself, it loathes is neighbors, it interferes with its neighbors, it threatens its neighbors, and it disregards its own citizens. So none of that is acceptable to us, or to our way of thinking."
At a Feb. 16 Armed Services Committee hearing, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper confirmed for Senator Ayotte that Iran has ties to the terrorist organizations Hezbollah and Hamas - both of which threaten America's ally, Israel. At the same hearing, Lieutenant General Ronald Burgess, the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, confirmed that Iran supplies arms to insurgents in Afghanistan, and that the Iranian regime is working to undermine efforts to stabilize Iraq.