Biden’s CIA nominee stresses China over Iran throughout Senate listening to

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Feb 24, 2021

CIA Director nominee William Burns mentioned Iran can’t be ignored, however advocated for a deal with China throughout his nomination listening to Wednesday.

Burns, who was nominated for the highest intelligence place by US President Joe Biden, went earlier than the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Wednesday.

Burns is a longtime diplomat who served in high State Department positions below Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. He was assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs in the course of the 2003 invasion of Iraq and deputy secretary of state from 2011 to 2014. In the Middle East, he was ambassador to Jordan from 1998 to 2001.

Much of the senators’ focus in the course of the listening to was on China. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, the vice chairman of the committee, pressed Burns on the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s partnership with Chinese entities, together with Tsinghua University. Burns is serving as president of the US-based suppose tank.

Burns mentioned China can be his high focus if confirmed, calling it “the biggest geopolitical test that we face.” He took a essential stance towards the People’s Republic all through the listening to, describing an “adversarial predatory Chinese leadership” below President Xi Jinping.

Iran and its alleged pursuit of a nuclear weapon was one other main matter on the listening to. Republican Sen. John Coryn of Texas requested Burns if he thought it will ever be acceptable for Iran to amass a nuclear weapon, to which Burns answered, “No, sir.”

“The challenges posed by Iranian behavior, for example, are hugely significant and ones that we can’t afford to ignore,” mentioned Burns.

Burns particularly talked about Iran’s improvement of ballistic missiles, along with “subversive and destabilizing actions in the Middle East and human rights abuses to its own people inside Iran.”

The Biden administration desires to rejoin the 2015 nuclear settlement with Iran, which lifted sanctions in trade for the Islamic Republic cutting down its nuclear program. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the deal in 2018. Iran is not in compliance with the settlement’s stipulations. The settlement sought to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

Biden desires Iran to return to compliance earlier than rejoining the deal. Iran says the United States, because the get together that left, should return first.

Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas requested if Biden’s want to return to the Iran nuclear deal would coloration his intelligence assessments on Iran.

“On Iran … it will be my obligation if confirmed to deliver those intelligence assessments in a straightforward and unvarnished way,” mentioned Burns.

Burns additionally addressed the 2003 invasion of Iraq, mentioning his 2002 “perfect storm” memo to then Secretary of State Colin Powell. The memo didn’t advise in opposition to the conflict, however warned of the attainable detrimental penalties of eradicating Saddam Hussein from energy.

Burns declined to particularly reply a query from Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska on shifting the intelligence price range from counterterrorism towards China. Burns famous there’s a “continuing threat from terrorist groups” in addition to “clearly huge emerging challenges.”

The ambassador didn’t point out many different Middle Eastern states in the course of the listening to, however mentioned he seen Israeli intelligence as “extremely capable” throughout his diplomatic profession, particularly relating to its use of expertise.

Burns additionally mentioned the United States can’t afford to underestimate Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin.

“While Russia may be in some ways a declining power, it can be at least as disruptive under Putin’s leadership as rising powers like China,” mentioned Burns.

Russia is lively within the Middle East, and closely helps the Syrian authorities within the Syrian civil conflict.

The committee’s questionnaire Burns crammed out forward of the listening to disclosed presents he has obtained from officers whereas president of the Carnegie Endowment. He listed a visit to the Super Bowl from the Saudi ambassador and vacation baskets from the king of Jordan amongst these.