The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee chided the Bush administration on Sunday for threatening military action in Iran to stem Tehran's support for insurgents in Iraq.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., said recent administration statements have provided grist for radicals in Iran.

"Some of the recent rhetoric goes beyond simply keeping the military option on the table, and it suggests that he has the authority and is going to move into Iran relative to trying to stop Iranian support for Iraq," Levin said.

President Bush said recently that the U.S. will "seek out and destroy" networks providing that support. While top administration officials have said the United States has no plans to attack Iran, they have declined to rule it out.

"I think some of his rhetoric has been very loose and plays into the hands of the fanatics in Iran," Levin said. "We ought to tone down the rhetoric, keep our strength, keep an option on the table, speak a little more softly, carry the big stick."

Democratic congressional leaders last week warned the administration not to launch an attack against Iran without first seeking approval from lawmakers.

Levin appeared on "FOX News Sunday."