Navy Adm. John Richardson, the nominee to be the next Chief of Naval Operations, told the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday that there were "other options besides going to war" if the Iran nuclear deal was not signed.
The remarks contradict Obama administration rhetoric that rejection of the deal would lead to war. At a press conference July 15, Obama said, "Either the issue of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon is resolved diplomatically through a negotiation, or it’s resolved through force, through war."
Richardson made the remarks while being questioned by Sen. Joni Ernst (R., Iowa).
"We do not have to sign this agreement, and that does not necessarily mean that we will be going to war with Iran," Ernst said. "Is that your assessment?"
"Ma'am, I do support whole-of-government approach and–" he said before Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) cut in.
"Admiral, you were just asked to give your personal opinion if asked for it," McCain said. "The senator is asking for your opinion as to whether there are other options besides going to war with Iran."
"I think that there are other options besides going to war," Richardson said.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey expressed a similar opinion during his testimony Wednesday, telling Ernst there were a "range of options" besides war and the current nuclear deal.