Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper remarked that “in the Middle East, the U.S. remains committed to working alongside our allies and partners to advance our strategic priorities for the region: ensuring the enduring defeat of ISIS, supporting a strong and independent Iraq and deterring Iranian aggression”. He went on to assert that “we must sustain efforts to counter rogue regimes such as Iran, while bolstering the capability of our allies and partners to maintain regional stability”. At the same session, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley asserted that “Iran is the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism, including groups that threaten U.S. personnel overseas and in our homeland... Recently, the Iranian regime’s attacks have become more aggressive and they are taking steps to resume development of nuclear weapons. Iran continues to develop cruise and ballistic missiles, improve their intelligence capabilities and undertake malicious cyber activities intended to challenge our competitive advantage”.
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