By John T. Bennett - 11/15/11 09:20 PM EST
The administration continues to believe there is time to use diplomatic and economic maneuvers to combat Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Colin Kahl told a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee.
That’s because evidence shows Tehran is trying to advance its nuclear arms program to a point it is close enough to “make a dash” toward fielding the world’s most deadly weapons, Kahl told the subcommittee.
But Tehran is not ready to make that decision, the officials said.
For that reason, “any discussion of military action should be … a last resort,” Kahl said.
Israel and the U.S. are developing missile defense systems, he said, and it will be the “only nation in the region” that will buy F-35 fighter jets, Kahl said. Congress and the White House agree on sending millions to Israel for systems to combat mortars and rockets.
Iraq intends to buy U.S.-made F-16 fighters. And Washington has, since 2006, been helping Lebanon build its armed forces with “training, assistance and military aid,” Kahl said.
In fact, he pointed out “the majority” of America’s weapons sales go to the Middle East, Kahl said, mentioning Saudi Arabia and Israel — two nations that are perhaps Tehran’s top regional rivals.