Nuclear accord with Iran in USA interest: Mattis

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis left and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford right speak with Chairman Sen. John McCain R-Ariz. center as they arrive to testify on Afghanistan before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washing

Sen. Deb Fischer on Tuesday focused on more aggressive use of USA air power in Afghanistan during a hearing that featured testimony from Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. John McCain (AZ) are undecided on whether they'd vote to reimpose sanctions on Iran.

While Republican Senator John McCain or Arizona, the committee's chairman, praised Trump's decision to eliminate deadlines for withdrawing US troops, he called it "totally unacceptable" that Congress has been given no detailed information on the revised strategy. "This is totally unacceptable".

During his presidential campaign, Trump tarred the agreement as a "bad deal" for the USA and vowed to rip it up upon taking office.

The Trump administration finally issued a strategy for Afghanistan in late August, and although it entails sending more troops to the region to advise to the Afghan military, it's unclear in the strategy what conditions would count as success.

As part of the plan, the Pentagon is boosting troop numbers by about 3,500, augmenting the roughly 11,000 Americans now stationed there.

The accord, according to us negotiators, was focused on the biggest security threat posed by Iran-its potential to build a nuclear weapon within a few weeks.

Mattis said, "Yes, senator, I do". This will enable Afghan forces "to take the fight to the enemy", rather than being cornered into defensive positions, he said.

Some of the additional US military advisers will be assigned to work with an Afghan corps, a large unit that includes thousands of soldiers.

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"They have not had them in the last several years, and that means they were not able to get swift access to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation air support and fire support", he added. As a presidential candidate, he vowed to "rip up" the deal, which was signed under his predecessor, Barack Obama.

"The new strategy smacked of "more of the same except that we removed the timetable" for any USA withdrawal", the Massachusetts Democrat said.

Senator Elizabeth Warren was perhaps the most skeptical of the lawmakers, pressing Mattis on how the new strategy involving as many as 15,000 US troops would make a difference that 100,000 couldn't.

Trump, while announcing the new strategy for Afghanistan, had criticised Pakistan for providing safe havens to terror outfits.

The United States in 2012 designated the Pakistan-based Haqqani network as a terrorist organisation. More specifically, Mattis plans to visit Islamabad soon, he said. Mattis said the new deployments will enable the NATO-led mission to reinforce training and advisory support at the battalion and brigade levels and to provide them with enhanced coalition air support. Angus King whether the deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was beneficial to the US, Mattis answered affirmatively.

"The fighting will continue to be carried out by our Afghan partners", he said, "but our advisers will accompany tactical units to advise and bring North Atlantic Treaty Organisation fire support to bear when needed".

Mattis said additional US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation airpower striking the Taliban will also make Afghan troops more capable in combat by ensuring government forces maintain the "high ground".

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