Mattis: Iran negotiations may be stalling tactic

General James Mattis, the head of U.S. Central Command, said on Tuesday that while sanctions may curb Iran's nuclear program, he warned that Iran may be using the negotiations to buy time.

Mattis, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East, told the Senate Armed Services Committee about the flaws in the Obama administration's program of sanctions and diplomatic efforts to stop Tehran from gaining nuclear capabilities. Mattis also said that Iran has a history of deceit and denial and that its enrichment of uranium is beyond plausible peaceful purposes, Associated Press reports.

"That should not be in any way construed as we should not try to negotiate," Mattis said, according to Associated Press. "I still support the direction we're taking. I'm just - I'm paid to take a rather dim view of the Iranians, frankly."

Iran recently showed interest in suggestions that some sanctions could be lifted if it ships out its stockpile of nuclear material and shuts down the plant producing it.

Mattis said that Iran remains a security threat in Syria where chemical weapons are becoming increasingly vulnerable due to the ongoing civil war.

President Obama's administration has not ruled out military action to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. During the hearing, Mattis said the U.S. military has the capability to stop Tehran through force, Associated Press reports.

"There are number of means to do that, perhaps even short of open conflict," Mattis said, according to Associated Press. "But certainly that's one of the options that I have to have prepared for the president."