Published: Fri, April 21, 2017
Research | By Jo Caldwell

Tillerson attacks Iran nuclear deal and vows a "comprehensive review"

While disparaging the nuclear deal and accusing Iran of fomenting violence and terrorism throughout the Middle East, Trump has avoided committing to abandoning the agreement, a move that would be staunchly opposed by USA businesses and European allies.

President Donald Trump ordered the review to evaluate whether suspension of sanctions related to the nuclear deal was "vital to the national security interests of the United States", Tillerson said, as reported in Reuters.

"Iran poses the most significant threat to the Central Region and to our national interests and the interests of our partners and allies", Votel said in his prepared testimony.

He said the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers failed "to achieve the objective of a non-nuclear Iran and only delays their goal of becoming a nuclear state". The language of Tillerson's letter suggests that the White House is likely to ramp up pressure on Iran for its continued terror support in the wake of the 2015 nuclear deal.

When the interagency review is completed, the administration looks forward to working with Congress on this issue.

Tillerson's comments were synonymous with Donald Trump's rhetoric, who on many occasions - during his presidential campaign and afterwards - criticised the nuclear deal reached between Iran and the U.S., the UK, Russia, France, China and Germany. He says an unchecked Iran could pursue the same path as Pyongyang "and take the world along with it".

Struck by the Obama administration in 2015, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action aims to keep Iran from developing a nuclear arsenal through economic incentives.

Tillerson criticized Iran for its hostility toward Israel, its sponsorship of Houthi rebels in Yemen, its backing of Assad, the harassment of USA naval vessels plying the Persian Gulf, and cyberattacks against the United States and its allies in the Gulf.

Iran has defended its nuclear programme as purely civilian and its supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei warned in November that Tehran would retaliate if the U.S. breached the nuclear agreement.

"With this certification, President Trump must now uphold the United States' obligations and renew the sanctions waivers", said Trita Parsi, NIAC president. He had said in January 2016, after the deal was implemented, that "Iran will not get its hands on a nuclear bomb". "So we'll see what happens".

"Everywhere you look, if there is trouble in the region, you find Iran", Mattis said after talks with senior Saudi officials.

And last week, CIA Director Mike Pompeo told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies that "we're actively engaged in a lot of work to assist the President in making sure he has an understanding on where the Iranians are compliant and whether they might not be".

"Iran has not lived up to the spirit of the agreement, and they have to do that, they have to do that", the president said.

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