Army Gen. Michael Kurilla, who leads the US Central Command, emphasized on Thursday that the recent agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia is the culmination of ongoing discussions that started between both nations two years ago.
During a hearing with the Senate Armed Services Committee, the General also highlighted that the importance of the agreement lies in its implementation.
Kurilla said the US military had blocked five major arms shipments from Iran to Yemen over the past ninety days, while the discussions were ongoing.
He added that the complexity of the security and political situations in the region were the reasons why Iran’s expansionist goals were behind the decision to establish the Central Command in 1983.
“Forty years later, while much of geopolitics and policy has transformed, the security landscape of this part of the world remains largely unchanged,” he said.
Kurilla added that in many important ways, the region’s most vexing problems have grown more complex. “Now, as then, the world’s geographically central region remains critical to American security interests, global trade, global energy, and global security.”
The US Commander warned that Iran has the largest and most diverse missile arsenal in the Middle East, with thousands of ballistic and cruise missiles capable of hitting the entire Middle East and the Levant.
Additionally, he said the Iranian regime possesses the largest and most capable drone force in the region, and any disruption in the maritime choke points flowing through the Middle East or instability in the region could threaten vital national interests and endanger the global economy.
“Iran’s military capabilities over the past forty years are unparalleled in the region, and the IRGC corps is unrecognizable compared to five years ago,” Kurilla affirmed.
He also expressed concern about Iran’s nuclear program, stating that Tehran can now produce enough fissile material to make a nuclear weapon in less than 14 days.
In addition, the regime invests heavily in information operations, including broadcasting, coordinated inauthentic activity, and cyber-attacks, Kurilla said.
Therefore, the US Commander stressed that deterring Iran is arguably more urgent than at any time in CENTCOM’s history due to Tehran’s cutting-edge missile and UAV capability as well as its uranium enrichment program.
He described Iran as the most destabilizing actor in the region.
“Today, Iran is undeterred from its malign activities, which include conventional threats to neighbors, support to violent proxy groups that spread chaos and instability throughout the region, and support to Russia’s war in Ukraine,” Kurilla told the Senate.
He then affirmed that Iran now commands an arsenal of drone systems, and is building larger drones that threaten both US partners and tens of thousands of Americans in the Gulf.
“Until the United States helped secure the Yemen truce, Iran was regularly using Yemen as a testing ground for these weapons,” the Commander said.
Kurilla also noted that Tehran continues to furnish weapons, support, and direction to proxies across the region who engage in acts of terror and undermine local governments, all advancing Iranian interests.
“The proxy forces are more emboldened and dangerous through the increased proliferation of these Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, which allow them to target US and partner interests with increased speed, range, accuracy, and explosive capacity,” he said.