James Mattis said it was in the US national security interest to remain in the agreement during a Senate hearing, making it harder for Trump to withdraw

The US defense secretary, James Mattis, has backed the nuclear deal with Iran, saying it is in the interests of national security to maintain it, breaking with Donald Trump and potentially making it harder for the president to withdraw from the deal.

The timing and nature of Mattis’s remarks are particularly significant because Trump has threatened to withhold certification of the 2015 international agreement in a report to Congress due on 15 October . Under the relevant legislation, the administration has to certify whether Iran is in material breach of the agreement, or if the deal is not serving the national interest.

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