The House Armed Services Committee met today for a hearing on "Addressing the Iranian Nuclear Challenge: Understanding the Military Options". Chairman Howard P. "Buck" McKeon made the following opening statement:
"The House Armed Services Committee meets today to receive testimony from experts on the nuclear challenge from Iran. The expert panel includes former Senator Charles Robb, a task force co-chair of the National Security Project with the Bipartisan Policy Center; Mr. Stephen Rademaker, a task force member of the National Security Project with the Bipartisan Policy Center; and Mr. David Albright, the President of the Institute for Science and International Security. Gentlemen, thank you for joining us today.
"The Iranian nuclear program is among the most complex foreign policy and national security challenges that the United States faces today. Intensive diplomatic and economic steps focused on Iran's nuclear program have been undertaken over the last decade to dissuade Iran from pursuing a military nuclear program. Unfortunately, it does not appear that these efforts have succeeded in convincing the Iranian to abandon its military nuclear ambitions.
"The United States' stated policy remains that Iran should not possess a nuclear weapon, as reflected by President Obama's recent comments in which he stated: 'I think both the Iranian and the Israeli governments recognize that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say.' Moreover, President Obama has explicitly declared 'that his administration would use force -- a "military component,' -- as a last resort to prevent Tehran from acquiring a bomb.' However, this message has not always been consistent -- across administrations -- and unfortunately it is not clear that the Iranian regime is deterred by such statements.
"I personally agree that all elements of national power should be brought to bear to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. I certainly recognize that no military operation is without risk. But given the fact that the President has stated that military option may have to be utilized to thwart Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, it is the committee's responsibility to ensure that the military option is credible.
"Moreover, any consideration of U.S. military response to Iran's nuclear developments requires rigorous and thoughtful evaluation, which is why are holding this hearing today. If diplomacy and economic sanctions fail to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon capability, then a military option may be the only recourse. Therefore, it is critical to rigorously study and understand all facets of any military option, including how it supports our vital national security interests, its potential for effectiveness, its risks, Iran's potential responses, the implications for the region. Likewise, effective military capability in the region could be a useful deterrent and improve regional stability, negating the need for a military strike.
"Gentlemen, thank you for appearing before the committee today. I look forward to your testimony and insights into the nuclear challenge from Iran."