Mattis breaks with Trump and backs U.S. staying in Iran nuclear deal

Mattis breaks with Trump and backs U.S. staying in Iran nuclear deal

In a full day of congressional hearings for the country's top defense officials, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford are slated to discuss the political and security situations in Afghanistan and South Asia.

Amidst the uncertainty facing the Iran nuclear deal ahead of an October 15 deadline, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday said the United States should remain in the Iran nuclear deal.

Gen. Dunford informed in this regard while briefing the U.S. lawmakers in the Senate Armed Services Committee. Several members expressed concern the USA was wading more deeply into a conflict at great expense without prospects for long-term success.

"You see some of the results of releasing our military from, for example, a proximity requirement - how close was the enemy to the Afghan or the USA -advised special forces", Mattis said. McCain says the Trump administration has failed to inform Congress of the details of the strategy spelled out by Trump.

Mattis then expanded on the Pentagon's new strategy to "regionalize, reinforce, reconcile and sustain" operations in Afghanistan. "They are liabilities. I accept that they are liabilities, but give us time to get rid of them because we don't have the assets to match these liabilities and you are increasing them [our liabilities] further", he said. This is totally unacceptable.

Already, Washington appears to have put the financial squeeze on Pakistan, shutting down the operations in the U.S. of Habib Bank, one of Pakistan's biggest.

The changes do not mean Afghanistan's civilian population will no longer be protected, Mattis said, stressing that United States soldiers will do everything "humanly possible" to avoid civilian deaths.

In opening remarks Tuesday, McCain said he was encouraged that Trump's Afghanistan plans "ended the foolish policy of arbitrary timetables for withdrawal and shifted to a conditional approach".

Meanwhile, Pakistan has denied the US' allegations.

The strategy is a significant divergence from the policy pursued by the Obama administration, which limited the participation of US troops in offensive operations and barred American presence on the front lines.

Pitching up the rhetoric against Pakistan, the senior officials of the U.S. administration accused the nation's intelligence group of being linked with terror groups.

Still, both Dunford and Mattis said they're willing to work with Pakistan "one more time" before taking punitive measures against the country.

The U.S. relationship with Pakistan has ebbed and flowed over the course of the 16-year war in Afghanistan, getting most tense after U.S. special forces killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011.

Other senators raised a concern that the new Afghanistan strategy won't lead to success.

Dunford acknowledged, however, that the war in Afghanistan is now a stalemate. "Even if it's against their own interest", Mattis said.