MANAMA, Bahrain --
"The United States takes very seriously our security commitments in the Gulf region," Mullen said after a meeting with Bahrain's king. Bahrain, directly across the Gulf from Iran, is home to a large U.S. Navy base that would be on the front lines of any war with Iran.
"We're very ready," Mullen said, an unusually direct acknowledgment that the United States has contingency plans to counter Iran should it make a move. "There are real threats to peace and stability here, and we've made no secrets of our concerns about Iran."
In Iran, the new foreign minister — and current nuclear chief — said Saturday that he wants to build the country's relationship with Saudi Arabia and strengthen ties with Turkey, China and Russia. The latter two countries have veto power on the U.N. Security Council that could help Iran as it tries to fend off tougher sanctions.
Ali Akbar Salehi, who heads the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, replaced longtime foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki, who was fired Monday by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad without public explanation.
"From my perspective I see Iran continuing on this path to develop nuclear weapons, and I believe that that development and achieving that goal would be very destabilizing to the region," Mullen said.