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Metalsnews: During his Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday, Mattis said the United States needs to forge a strategy to "checkmate Iran's goal for regional hegemony."

"Iran is the biggest destabilizing force in the Middle East and its policies are contrary to our interests," Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee, Press TV reported.

Mattis provided members of the committee with a 56-page document that is intended to serve as a guide to lawmakers who will be questioning him and it will become part of the permanent hearing record.

"Iranian malign influence in the region is growing," he wrote in the document.

The Senate on Thursday passed by a vote of 81 to 17 a waiver to a law, which bars military officers to serve as the civilian head of the Pentagon within seven years of their military service, for Mattis to become secretary of defense. He retired from the Marine Corps in 2013.

However, Mattis did not echo Trump's campaign threat to shred the nuclear agreement between Iran and major powers.

"When America gives our word, we have to live up to it," Mattis said.

Iran and P5+1(the US, Britain, France, China and Russia, plus Germany) reached the nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, on July 14, 2015.

In accordance with JCPOA, which took effect last January, Iran has undertaken to put limitations on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions.

The US, however, has continued to maintain sanctions on Iran and a number of Iranian companies and individuals, prompting complaints from Tehran that Washington is failing to uphold its side of the deal.

At the hearing, Mattis also described Russia as the top threat to US interests and said Washington must be ready to confront Moscow where necessary, even as he backed Trump's call for closer ties.

"I would consider the principal threats to start with Russia," he said after being asked about the main threats to American interests.

Source: Financial Tribune

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