Hagel assures on Iran, Israel in Senate confirmation hearing

WASHINGTON Thu Jan 31, 2013 10:20am EST

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Chuck Hagel said he backed the U.S. policy of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon as he testified on Thursday before a skeptical Senate panel considering his nomination to be President Barack Obama's next secretary of defense.

Hagel, a former Republican senator and decorated Vietnam veteran, broadly defended his record on national security issues after a public campaign against his nomination by critics seeking to portray him as soft on Iran and anti-Israel.

"No one individual vote, quote, or statement defines me, my beliefs, or my record," Hagel told the lawmakers in prepared remarks. "My overall worldview has never changed: that America has and must maintain the strongest military in the world."

(Reporting by Phil Stewart and David Alexander)

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