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Nuclear accord with Iran in U.S. interest: Mattis

04 October, 2017, 00:42 | Author: Kristen Ingram
  • U.S. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis briefs the media during a NATO defence ministers meeting at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels

Trump has repeatedly said that he's inclined not to certify Iranian compliance after having twice found the country compliant at earlier deadlines.

"The point I would make is that if we can confirm that Iran is living by the agreement, if we can determine that this is in our best interest, then clearly we should stay with it", Mattis said. "I believe at this point in time, absent indications to the contrary, it is something the president should consider staying with". After a noticeable pause, Mattis finally replied: "Yes, senator, I do".

The White House had no immediate comment on Mattis' remarks, which once again highlighted the range of views on key policy issues within the Trump administration.

Congressional Democrats are increasingly anxious Trump's distaste for the Iran nuclear deal will lead him to abandon the accord and imperil the ability to contain Iran's nuclear program.

That would let Congress, controlled by Trump's fellow Republicans, effectively decide whether to kill the deal.

McCain, who often criticized the administration of former president Barack Obama for its decisions on Afghanistan, said that he admires Mattis and Dunford, but that he thinks the amount of information they have shared about their plans is severely lacking.

Mattis, a retired Marine general who once commanded troops in Afghanistan, said that Afghan commandos who have fought with US military advisers alongside them "have won every time they have fought the enemy", and that those who have fought alone "have not won".

"I'd like for you to tell me how the inclusion of 3,500 is going to change the battlefield equation", Sen. In a statement in August he said Iran is "not in compliance with the agreement and they certainly are not in the spirit of the agreement in compliance", and in September he called the agreement an "embarrassment" during a speech to the United Nations.

A collapse of the deal could trigger a regional arms race and worsen Middle East tensions.

As the USA approaches the 16th anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan, now America's longest war, Mattis gave his first congressional testimony Tuesday since President Donald Trump's announcement in August of an expanded US role to train and advise Afghan forces.

Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says the U.S.is spending $12.5 billion overall to wage America's longest war.

"It is time for the entire world to join us in demanding that Iran's government end its pursuit of death and destruction", Trump said.

"I declare to you the Islamic Republic of Iran will not be the first country to violate the agreement, but it will respond decisively and resolutely to its violation by any party", he said.

Trump's hostility toward the deal - signed in 2015 by Iran, the US, Russia, France, Germany, China, and the United Kingdom - is longstanding.

Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, says that decertification is an "internal" United States matter and that a Republican Congress may well decide to preserve the accord, regardless of the president's actions.

"We gave up all of our leverage already".

J Street, a liberal pro-Israel group, said Trump did not have legitimate grounds to decertify the deal.

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