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Ahead of hearings, Hagel commits to preventing Iranian nukes

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WASHINGTON (JTA) — In answers prepared for his Senate hearings, Chuck Hagel says he is committed to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, even if this means military action.

"With the ever present threat of Iran, the next Secretary of Defense must be vigilant in pursuing the goal of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, and must maintain our unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security," Hagel says in outlining his priorities at the outset of a 112-page question-and-answer preparatory paper released Wednesday through one of his key advocates, Steve Clemons, a writer at The Atlantic. Hagel is set to face the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday.

Asked if he agrees with President Obama that all options are on the table when it comes to Iran, Hagel says: "I agree with the President that the United States should take no options off the table in our efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. If confirmed, I will focus intently on ensuring that U.S. military is in fact prepared for any contingency."

Hagel has come under fire for his past skepticism of the efficacy of Iran sanctions and his wariness of a military strike. In the prep document released by Clemons, Hagel endorses Obama’s sanctions regime. He also praises U.S.-Israel defense cooperation and says he would work to expand missile defense cooperation with Israel.

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