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U.S. Defense Secretary Reassures Gulf Allies

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel

During a visit to Bahrain, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has said the United States is entering the new nuclear pact with Iran "very clear-eyed," and he underscored the U.S. commitment to Middle East security.

Speaking from an mine-clearing ship in the U.S. Fifth Fleet on December 6, Hagel said the region was "unstable" and that "having a steady American hand in this region can help our allies and reassure our allies."

He also said the next six months presented an opportunity to see if Iran is serious about not developing its nuclear capabilities.

The November 24 international agreement between six world powers and Iran on the country’s nuclear program has alarmed leaders of the mostly Sunni Persian Gulf states, who regard Shi'ite-led Iran as a threat.

The interim deal, reached in Geneva, calls for Iran to suspend parts of its nuclear program in exchange for partial relief from Western economic sanctions on the Islamic republic.

But Israel and some Persian Gulf states have expressed concerns that the deal could result in a strengthened Iran flexing its power.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP