While posing for a photo-op with senior military leaders and their spouses on Thursday night, President Donald Trump made an ominous prediction that the gathering could be the "calm before the storm".
"If we can confirm that Iran is living by the agreement, if we can determine that this is in our best interests, then clearly, we should stay with it", Mattis testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee. During the shoot, Trump told reporters the evening represented "the calm before the storm" but would not elaborate.
"Maybe it's the calm before the storm", POTUS replied.
Trump spoke of the challenges the country was facing in North Korea, Iran, and Afghanistan as well as the ongoing fight against ISIS.
Trump issued another stark warning to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, reiterating that he has a range of military options at his disposal.
The defence secretary, James Mattis, said this week that staying with the deal, under which Iran accepted strict curbs on its nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief, was in USA national security interests.
Commentators and lawmakers immediately expressed alarm at the president's cryptic comments.
"That is why we must put an end to Iran's continued aggression and nuclear ambitions", he said.
"We have the world's great military people, thank you all for coming", he concluded the meeting.
"What storm?" questioned one reporter. According to the newspaper, Trump is expected to deliver a speech on October 12, when he will open the door to modifying the agreement as part of a tougher approach toward Iran.
Backing out of this deal could cause problems with other world powers who are party to it, at a tense time with another nation aspiring to build nuclear weapons: North Korea.
"You'll find out", the president said.
"I think you will see that announced in short order".
On North Korea, the president said "we will do what we must do" to prevent Pyongyang from threatening the USA and its allies.