By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2013 – Beyond threatening countries in the Middle East through its potential acquisition of nuclear weapons, Iran presents another danger, said the U.S. military's top-ranking officer on today's segment of NBC’s “Meet the Press."
"Iran is ... very disruptive and a malicious influence in Syria," Dempsey said on the Sunday news show where he appeared with soon-to-retire Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta.
"[Iran] smuggles weapons. They are active in any number of ways," Dempsey said.
Panetta said intelligence indicates Iran has not made "the decision" to proceed with the development of a nuclear weapon.
"I can't tell you [Iran is] in fact pursuing a weapon because that's not what intelligence says they are doing right now," he said. "But every indication is they want to continue to increase their nuclear capability. And that's a concern, and that's what we're asking them to stop doing.
"They are developing and enriching uranium. They continue to do that. They continue to work at developing their capability," the secretary said.
"They say they're doing it to develop their own energy source. I think it is suspect that they continue to enrich uranium, because that is dangerous, and that violates international [law]," Panetta added.
But if intelligence does indicate Iran's potential production of nuclear warheads, Dempsey said, the U.S. military is ready for that possibility.
"We have the capability to provide options to the president in any number of scenarios to include their acquisition of nuclear weapon," Dempsey said. Iran's capability could be destroyed by the U.S. military, he noted, but added that Iran’s intentions would "have to be influenced through other means."