The commander of the US Central Command, General Kenneth McKenzie, has said that Iran is the most immediate threat to the US interests in the Middle East and the region's security in general.
McKenzie warned that "the threat posed by Iran is graver than ever."
Speaking at a hearing held by the Senate Armed Services Committee, McKenzie explained that Iran's threat extends from its proxies in Yemen to Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and even the border with Israel.
"Houthis have targeted Saudi Arabia's largest cities and its critical oil infrastructure. Recently, the Houthis have raised the stakes further by using the same high-end Iranian weapons," said the commander.
McKenzie indicated that Iran is the main reason that prevents a solution to the Yemen crisis, saying: "Houthis are prepared to further escalate this conflict using whatever means the Iranians put at their disposal, even at the risk of inflicting mass civilian casualties and threatening American forces."
"CENTCOM continues to support diplomatic efforts to end the conflict in Yemen."
He said that Tehran also supports its militias in Iraq and Syria to launch a continuous campaign of indirect attacks against the US and coalition forces, hoping to push them out of the region.
He noted that Iran had developed ballistic missiles that "could be configured to deliver them and has conducted numerous launches to test those missile systems. These actions continue to demonstrate Iran's defiance and willingness to undermine international norms with threats against US interests and those of our partners and allies."
The official reported that Iran has developed and amassed sophisticated ballistic missile forces and is at the cutting edge in developing aerial and maritime unmanned systems.
"Their missiles have significantly greater range and significantly enhanced accuracy," he said, adding Iran made "remarkable" advancements in its missile program.
McKenzie noted that Tehran has more than 3,000 ballistic missiles of various types, some of which can reach Tel Aviv.
"None of them can reach Europe yet, but over the last five to seven years … they have invested heavily in their ballistic missile program."
He expressed his support for the efforts of the US administration to bring Iran back into the nuclear agreement, indicating that the main objective is to ensure Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon.
"A primary objective of our policy in the region is for Iran not to possess a nuclear weapon... I think the best and most effective way to get to that position is through a negotiated agreement, which I fully support."