Hagel says military power is an important part of diplomatic resolutions in Syria, Iran

Military power was a significant contribution to recent diplomatic openings in both Syria and Iran, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said on Tuesday.

Hagel made the remarks on Tuesday during the Center for Strategic & International Studies Global Security Forum in Washington. Hagel said that the maintenance of military pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime resulted in the beginning of the end for Syria's chemical weapons arsenal.

"President Obama's resolve to take military action to respond to the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons helped create an opening for diplomacy with Russia - which we pursued," Hagel said. "That led to a U.N. Security Council Resolution and to the involvement of the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons inspectors on the ground in Syria working to oversee the removal and destruction of chemical weapons. We are on a course to eliminate one of the largest stockpiles of chemical weapons in the world."

Hagel noted that the DoD also developed technology that could be used to destroy Syria's chemical stockpile.

He also pointed out that the strong military presence in the Persian Gulf and the broader Middle East will help protect U.S. allies and interests as the U.S. pursues a diplomatic path in the Iran nuclear crisis.

"We may have another possibility with Iran, where we are engaging on a diplomatic path to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon," Hagel said. "The United States is clear-eyed about the challenges and uncertainties that lie ahead on this path, and the need for Iran to demonstrate its seriousness through actions. We will maintain a strong and ready military presence in the Persian Gulf, and the broader Middle East, to deter Iran's destabilizing activities, and to work with and protect our allies and our interests."

Hagel said the challenges facing the U.S. with Syria and Iran are just two pieces of the global complexities the U.S. will continue to face going forward.

"In both cases our military power has been an important part of the work to possibly find these diplomatic resolutions, resolutions to difficult and interconnected international problems," Hagel said.