Describing Iran as the "most significant threat' to regional stability, a top American commander has accused Tehran of carrying out clandestine activities in more than a dozen countries including India.
An Iranian miscalculation raises the risk of sparking disastrous conflict, General James Mattis Commander of the US Central Command, told members of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee during a Congressional hearing.
"Iran remains the single most significant, regional threat to stability and prosperity. It's reckless behaviour and bellicose rhetoric, characterise a leadership that cannot win the affection of its own people or respect of any responsible nation in the region," he said on Tuesday.
He added that Iran's continued support to the murderous Assad regime in Syria coupled with its malign activities in India, Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Bahrain, Yemen, Gaza, Sudan, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Thailand, Georgia, Bulgaria, Nigeria.
"In Washington DC it attempted to kill the Saudi ambassador and elsewhere in the world, as well as in the cyber-domain, raise the risk of Iranian miscalculation that could spark a disastrous conflict," he said.
Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said that all options, including military options, need to remain on the table and preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon is not only US policy but US is determined to achieve the policy goal.
"Iran is actively expanding threat network that has promoted violence across the regions in Yemen, Gaza, Sudan, Syria, Iraq and elsewhere. It provides financial and material support to overthrow or undermine governments or terrorise innocent civilians," he said.
General Mattis added that the collapse of Assad regime in Syria would be the biggest strategic setback for Iran in 25 years.
"I believe they will arm militias inside the country to try to create a Lebanese Hezbollah-type effect. They would redouble their efforts vis-a-vis Iraq, Bahrain, Yemen and elsewhere," he said.
Mattis said that Iran obtaining a nuclear weapons would be very dangerous for the world.
"It would be dangerous, because it would enable Iran to continue to act like a revolutionary cause, vice a responsible country and they would sense fewer limitations, and more invulnerability to conducting the kind of attacks that killed Israeli tourists in Bulgaria, provide MANPADS to Yemen, which they were just caught at.
I believe we would see more of this irresponsible, reckless behaviour," he said in response to a question.