US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter has said that the option of military action to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons still exists despite the nuclear agreement sealed with the country last week.
Carter made the remark on his way to Israel, the first stop on his tour of the Middle East. Carter will later visit Saudi Arabia and Jordan to renew US security commitments in the region.
Carter’s comments were likely made in an effort to calm Israel, the main US ally in the Middle East, which is one of the harshest critics of the long sought after agreement on the Iranian nuclear program.
However, Carter admitted that he will not attempt to persuade anyone in Israel in regards to the deal, but instead confirmed the US’ desire to protect Israel has not diminished.
Carter told reporters,“One of the reasons why this deal is a good one is that it does nothing to prevent the military option.”
However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the agreement as a "historic mistake" which would open the way for Iran to produce nuclear weapons.
In an interview on Sunday, Netanyahu rejected proposals that the US may raise the level of military aid to Israel following the agreement, saying that to accept this would suggest Israel's approval of the deal.
Defense Secretary Carter arrived in Tel Aviv on Sunday, where he will meet his Israeli counterpart Moshe Yaalon Monday before holding talks with Netanyahu on Tuesday.
The deal between Iran and six world powers - Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States - is aimed at monitoring Iran's most sensitive nuclear work for over 12 years in exchange for immediate relief for the country from the economic sanctions which have long crippled its economy.