Mattis: Trump couldn't 'affirm' Iran was playing by the rules

Matt Saintsing
May 09, 2018 - 12:53 pm

Photo by Chris Kleponis/Pool/Sipa USA

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President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal, in part, because he couldn’t support that Iran was living up to the agreement, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Wednesday.

During testimony at a defense budget hearing, Mattis told Senators that Trump’s decision was not “hasty” and that the U.S. will focus their efforts on working with allies to push Iran to halt their destructive activities in the region, including ballistic missile development and terrorism support.

The 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran Deal, eased sanctions on Tehran in return for Iran halting its nuclear weapons program. On Tuesday, Trump followed through on a campaign promise to withdraw the U.S. from what he called “a horrible one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made.”

Mattis was one of senior Trump administration officials who had previously told Congress that Iran was in compliance with the deal.

“I believe what has happened is the president could not affirm as required that this agreement was being lived up to and in the best interests in all aspects of what was supposed to be happening under the JCPOA,” Mattis told the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on defense.

European allies such as France, Germany and the United Kingdom had all publically and privately lobbied Trump to remain in the deal prior to his Tuesday announcement. Those countries along with Iran have signaled they may continue with the deal without the U.S.

Criticism came down along party lines with Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said jettisoning the deal was “not only wrong but reckless,” being that inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities are now over.

“We have had under this agreement inspectors on the ground who have reported to us directly and personally in the United States Senate,” said Durbin.

“We are forsaking the opportunity to continue to monitor in detail the work done by Iran to make certain they live up to its terms.”