- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The top U.S. commander in the Middle East told Congress on Tuesday that Iran is the top threat to prosperity and stability in the region.

“Despite significant economic sanctions and increased diplomatic isolation within the global community, Iran continues to export instability and violence across the region and beyond,” Marine Gen. James N. Mattis, commander of U.S. Central Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Gen. Mattis noted Iran’s potential nuclear threat, its maritime threat to regional sea lanes, its cache of short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, its network of illicit activities throughout the Middle East, and its growing malicious cyberactivities.

He also warned any potential enemy against trying to take advantage of the United States’ reduced aircraft carrier presence in the Middle East. The Pentagon has opted to keep one carrier, instead of two, in the region in order to meet budget demands.

“That would be very ill-advised,” Gen. Mattis said. “It would be their longest and their worst day.”

• Kristina Wong can be reached at kwong@washingtontimes.com.

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