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US will not be drawn into military confrontation with Iran: CENTCOM chief

The United States will not be drawn into a military confrontation with Iran, and Tehran’s nuclear program moves are “not irreversible,” the top US military commander for the Middle East said Thursday.

Asked about deterring Iran, Central Command chief Gen. Kenneth McKenzie said nothing Tehran had done related to enriching uranium needed for a nuclear weapon was final. “They’ve done nothing that is irreversible,” the US general told reporters during a briefing at the Pentagon.

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But McKenzie warned that Iran continued to threaten the stability of the Middle East and voiced concerns over Iran’s missile program.

The US general said Washington continued to provide Saudi Arabia “defensive support” because it is under attack “typically at least every other day, sometimes more than one a day … from Yemen.”

“So, the principal thing I do with the Saudis is I give them advance notice when I’m able to do that,” he said.

Asked about Lebanon, McKenzie commended the Lebanese army and expressed continued support for arming the Lebanese Armed Forces.

“It is a good relationship with the Lebanese Armed Forces, and it’s a relatively inexpensive relationship … and we view them as one of the few institutions in that country that really is a pillar of stability. So it’s important to keep that relationship alive so we will continue to work that very hard,” he said.

But Lebanon’s Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed militia, is a constant concern to the US, he said. “We know that, in fact, Iran does continue to ship arms to Hezbollah in Lebanon with an aim to build capabilities that could strike Israel to the south. All those things are very concerning to me,” McKenzie said.

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