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Top US general says enhanced partnership between Iran, Russia and China will make them ‘problematic’ for ‘years to come’ | CNN policy


Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley told lawmakers on Wednesday that China, Russia and Iran would pose a problem for the US “for many years to come” as the three work more closely together.

Speaking to the House Armed Services Committee alongside Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Milley said Russia and China are “getting closer”.

“I wouldn’t call it a true full alliance in any real sense, but we’re seeing them getting closer and that’s problematic,” Milley said. “And then … Iran is the third. So I think these three countries together will be problematic for many years, especially Russia and China because of their capabilities.”

While the US has for years made it clear that the three countries are the focus of the military – particularly China and Russia – tensions with all three have been rising in recent months and even weeks.

The US continues to help fund Ukraine’s defenses against the Russian invasion, which Milley said Wednesday “in and of itself is a war crime.” Tensions with China recently rose after a suspected Chinese spy balloon flew over the continental US. It was eventually shot down by the US military off the east coast of the country; Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe refused to call Austin about the incident.

And just last week, the US launched retaliatory strikes against Iran-backed groups in Syria after a suspected Iranian drone struck a facility housing US personnel, killing an American contractor and wounding five soldiers. After the US attack, further missile and drone strikes were carried out on US and coalition personnel in Syria.

Milley warned during a hearing on Tuesday that Iran could “produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon in less than two weeks” and eventually produce a nuclear weapon within “several months thereafter”.

“The US military has developed several options for our national leadership to consider if or when Iran decides to develop a nuclear weapon,” he said.

But he added on Wednesday that China and Russia specifically “have the means to threaten our interests and our way of life,” marking the first time the US has “faced two major nuclear powers.”

And while Milley also said on Wednesday that China’s nuclear capabilities “do not match those of the US,” he added that they are still significant.

“We probably won’t be able to do anything to stop, slow down, disrupt, disrupt or destroy the Chinese nuclear development program that they have planned for the next 10 to 20 years,” Milley said. “They will do that according to their own plan. And I think there is very little leverage we can do from the outside to prevent that from happening.”

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