Tillerson Blasts Iran and Nuclear Deal; Says Policy Review Underway

Remigio Civitarese
Aprile 20, 2017

However, the U.S. admits that Tehran is complying with the 2015 agreement.

Iran is sticking to the terms of its nuclear deal made with the Obama administration, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has concluded, but he questions whether sanctions should keep being lifted, given Iran's continued support for terrorism.

Iran, for its part, continues to deny it was ever trying to develop nuclear weapons.

Tillerson is set to chair a UN Security Council ministerial meeting next week on North Korea, amid soaring tensions over Pyongyang's missile and nuclear ambitions. "We just don't see that that's a prudent way to be dealing with Iran".

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson took harsh aim at the Islamic Republic on Wednesday, accusing it of being a terrorist-sponsoring, human-rights violating, destabilizing force with long-term nuclear ambitions akin to those of North Korea. Tillerson accused Iran of intensifying multiple conflicts including the one in Syria, undermining United States interests in several countries, continuing to support attacks against Israel, and sponsoring cyber and terror attacks across the world.

Should the USA break the terms of the agreement, it would upset the other partners of the deal, which was signed in July 2015 - and Iran could consider the move a green light to restart its nuclear activity.

He said the landmark 2015 nuclear deal will fail to prevent the Islamic regime from becoming a nuclear power. But he said its "nuclear ambitions" remained "a grave risk to global peace and security".

The six powers that negotiated the nuclear deal with the involvement from the European Union have set aside Iran's alleged support to terrorism in order to get a deal guaranteeing that the country would not be able to build a nuclear weapon for a decade and would remain under the eye of United Nations weapons inspectors.

Israel was one of the most outspoken opponents of the Iran nuclear accord struck between Iran and six major world powers after marathon talks in Vienna in 2015. With some of those critics now in office, Tillerson's comments Wednesday marked the first time that position has been echoed by the US government. He also said that the Trump administration launched a review of its policy toward Tehran.

The nuclear agreement, negotiated during Barack Obama's presidency, placed limitations on Iran's nuclear programme in exchange for lifting economic sanctions against Iran.

Tillerson also noted that "Iranian naval vessels continue to undermine freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf by harassing United States naval vessels".

But Mr Obama kept those issues separate from the nuclear agreement, which would have been impossible to achieve without that narrow focus.

Mr Tillerson, on the other hand, called this a mistaken approach and said the review would take a comprehensive look at all of the threats posed by Iran.

And the secretary of state raised the stakes by bringing in comparisons to North Korea.

Hours before he declared Iran nuclear deal a failure, Tillerson sent a terse letter to the US House of Representatives speaker Paul Ryan, saying the administration has ordered an inter-agency review of whether the earlier suspension of sanctions, which was a necessity under the 2015 nuclear deal, was in the US' national security interests.

North Korea's aim is to be able to put a nuclear warhead on an intercontinental ballistic missile that can reach targets around the world, including the US. "The United States is keen to avoid a second piece of evidence that strategic patience is a failed approach". Critics of Iran want the U.S.to beef up those sanctions.

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