TEL AVIV, Israel — U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Sunday he has no expectation of persuading Israeli leaders to drop their opposition to the Iran nuclear deal, but will instead emphasis that the accord imposes no limits on what Washington can do to ensure the security of Israel and U.S. Arab allies.
“Our ability to carry out that strategy is unchanged,” Carter told reporters aboard his plane en route to Tel Aviv.
The Obama administration reserves the right to use military force against Iran if necessary, he added, although the nuclear deal is intended to preclude that by resolving the issue diplomatically.
Carter is scheduled to meet with Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon on Monday and with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday before traveling to Saudi Arabia and Jordan to consult on the implications of the Iran deal and to assess progress in the regional campaign against the Islamic State. One of the bases used for U.S.-led training and arming of moderate Syrian rebels is in Jordan, and the Jordanian air force has carried out strikes against the Islamic State militants in Syria. One Jordanian pilot was captured and killed by the militants.
Netanyahu has been harshly critical of the Iran nuclear deal, asserting that it clears the way for Iran to build nuclear weapons that would threaten Israel’s existence and ultimately diminish U.S. and global security.