Pentagon chief: We will use 'military option' against Iran if necessary

Defense Secretary Ash Carter reassured Israel and other allies in the Middle East on Tuesday that the U.S. would utilize the "military option" against Iran if needed. 

"We remain prepared and postured to bolster the security of our friends and allies in the region, including Israel; to defend against aggression; ensure freedom of navigation in the Gulf; and check Iranian malign influence," Carter said in a statement.

"We will utilize the military option if necessary," he added. 

"Our military — including tens of thousands of U.S. forces in the Middle East — are full speed ahead maintaining a strong presence in the Gulf."

Carter's remarks came after the administration announced it reached a nuclear deal with Iran to limit its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu bashed the deal, calling it "a historic mistake for the entire world." 

“Whenever there is a readiness to make a deal at any cost, this is the result," he said, adding that Iran will receive hundreds of billions of dollars to "fuel its terror machine, its aggression and its expansionism in the Middle East and around the world."

Carter said he was pleased with the "comprehensive, verifiable deal to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon."  

"As we implement this historic agreement, deterrence remains a major component of America's national security," he said. 

"The men and women of the Defense Department comprise the finest fighting force the world has ever known and will continue to carry out these and all missions with excellence," he said. 

Carter is traveling to Israel next week to meet with counterparts. The White House said in a statement that President Obama discussed the visit with Netanyahu during a phone call Tuesday. 

"The President noted that Secretary of Defense Ash Carter's visit next week to Israel is a reflection of the unprecedented level of security cooperation between the United States and Israel, and that the visit offers a further opportunity to continue our close consultation on security issues with Israeli counterparts as we remain vigilant in countering the Iranian regime's destabilizing activities in the region," it said. 

"The President also underscored his Administration's stalwart commitment to Israel's security and noted that the [deal] will remove the specter of a nuclear-armed Iran, an outcome in the national security interest of the United States and Israel," it said. 

"The President told the Prime Minister that today's agreement on the nuclear issue will not diminish our concerns regarding Iran's support for terrorism and threats toward Israel," it added.