Gen. David Petraeus spoke before the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday morning, where he delivered his opinion on the administration’s nuclear agreement with Iran and noted key weaknesses in the deal.
"The nuclear agreement negotiated by the Obama administration contains many positive elements," Petraeus said. "It also contains problematic elements."
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After saying that the deal will put restrictions on the Iranian regime for the next 10 to 15 years, the retired four-star general, who served more than 37 years in the Army, warned that the U.S.’s approach to the Ayatollah’s use of his new power and resources as the deal expires will determine the fate of the agreement.
"It will also, however, increase considerably the resources available for the Iranian regime to pursue maligned activities and in the longer term, as constraints imposed by the agreement expire, the risk of Iranian proliferation will increase," Petraeus said. "The key question going forward is what will be the relationship of the United States to Iranian power? Will we seek to counter it, or to accommodate it?"
Obama’s former CIA Director echoed fears of "many in the region" that the deal will result in the U.S. now working with Iran in other areas, such as in Syria. Petraeus argued that would be a mistake on the administration’s part. He suggested that a unified voice from President Obama and Congress would help reinforce the U.S. position with Sunni allies.
"The United States should make absolutely clear that we will never allow Iran to possess highly enriched uranium, and that any move in that direction will be met with military force," Petraeus said. "This guarantee must be ironclad to reassure our partners in the region, and have the desired effect with Iran."
The celebrated war hero recommended intensified cooperation with Arab and Israeli partners to combat Iran’s destructive influence in the region. Petraeus also called for increasing the current sanctions on the Iranian regime for their human rights abuses and fully arming partners in the Middle East to help take out the Ayatollah's nuclear program should he be caught cheating.
However, the very first steps the U.S. could take, according to Petraeus, is to show resolve in the fight against the Islamic State to ensure Iran’s influence does not shape the Middle East.
"We should understand that the most immediate test for the credibility of our policy will be what we do in Iraq and Syria," Petraeus said. "The outcome in those countries will be the basis for the judgments of friend and foe alike that our steadfastness and competence in thwarting ISIS and Iran's request for hegemony."