United States Defense Secretary Ashton Carter offered assurances Friday that the Iran nuclear deal will leave Washington with a "more effective" military option if that becomes necessary.
Carter defended the agreement in an opinion piece in the USA Today newspaper, arguing it would lead to a more durable outcome.
But the Pentagon chief said the military option was still on the table and, if called for, such action would be "more effective" as a result of the agreement.
World powers and Iran struck the landmark deal in July after years of negotiations to address Western concerns that Tehran was developing a nuclear bomb.
"Its implementation will block the pathways Iran could take to build a nuclear bomb. That long-term outcome is more durable than one a military strike would bring about," Carter wrote.
"While I am responsible for that alternative and know that it would be effective at setting back Iran's nuclear program, it would do so with potentially serious second- and third-order repercussions, and the likely need to repeat attacks once Iran sought to rebuild its capability," he continued.
But Carter argued the deal also made the option of military action by the U.S. against Iran stronger going forward.
"The military option is real today and, as secretary of defense, I will be sure that remains true well into the future," he wrote.
"Indeed, the reality is that any prospective military option, if called for, will be more effective under this deal — not less. Iran will have a smaller and more concentrated civil nuclear program, and the deal's verification provisions will give us more information with which to plan."
President Barack Obama has argued that the alternative to the Iran deal is war, though top military officials have debunked the claim, noting that alternatives exist.
Senator Chuck Schumer, who recently announced he would vote against the Iran deal, has also rejected claims that the choice is between the deal and war.
“The alternative does not have to be war,” he said. “It could be increased negotiations, as difficult as they are.”
Meanwhile, Obama earned enough backing in Congress this week to make sure the deal is not blocked by lawmakers. The agreement will ease Western sanctions on Iran in return for Tehran curtailing its nuclear program.
Many Republicans, however, believe the Islamic Republic will still seek to cheat its way to developing an atomic bomb.
A public relations battle was launched over the agreement, which is to be put to a vote in Congress next week.
AFP contributed to this report.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)