Gen. Joseph Dunford testified Thursday that, even after the Iran nuclear deal spearheaded by the Obama administration, Iran remained the same malignant influence in the Middle East that it was before the agreement.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) asked Dunford during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the defense budget about Iran's behavior in the wake of the deal.
"Post-agreement, is Iran becoming a better actor in the region, or [has] their behavior gotten worse?" Graham asked.
"Senator, Iran was a malign influence in the region prior to the agreement," Dunford said. "Iran remains a malign influence today."
Iran, the world's largest state sponsor of terrorism, received billions in sanctions relief as part of the nuclear deal, and the nation has conducted ballistic missile tests in defiance of a U.N. Security Council resolution that "calls upon" Iran not to engage in such acts.
In an interview with NPR in December 2014, President Obama expressed optimism that the nuclear deal would push Iran to join the international community and desist its belligerent behavior.
"They have a path to break through that isolation and they should seize it," Obama said. "Because if they do, there's incredible talent and resources and sophistication inside of Iran, and it would be a very successful regional power that was also abiding by international norms and international rules, and that would be good for everybody. That would be good for the United States, that would be good for the region, and most of all, it would be good for the Iranian people."