Joseph Votel
Joseph VotelReuters

The Iranian nuclear deal is still in the best interests of the United States, a senior Pentagon official said Tuesday, according to AFP.

U.S. Central Command chief General Joseph Votel told a Senate panel he shared the views of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"From my perspective, the JCPOA addresses one of the principal threats that we deal with from Iran," Votel said, using the deal's official acronym.

"So, if the JCPOA goes away, then we will have to have another way to deal with the nuclear weapons program," he added.

The view is contrary to U.S. President Donald Trump’s opinion on the deal. Trump has been one of the most vocal critics of the 2015 agreement, describing it as “the worst deal ever negotiated”.

The president recently decided to extend a waiver on nuclear sanctions that were imposed on Iran but made clear it would be the last time he will do so and ordered European allies and Congress to work with him to fix “the disastrous flaws” in the 2015 deal or Washington would withdraw.

On Tuesday, Trump cited disagreements on the Iran deal as a reason for his decision to fire Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and replace him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who has spoken out against the Iran deal in the past.

The president is concerned that parts of the deal start to expire from 2026 and that it fails to address Iran's missile program, its regional activities or its human rights abuses.