Once Critical of Global Deals, Trump Slow to Pull Out of Any

Posted April 21, 2017

While Iran has complied to date with its requirements under the nuclear deal, its support for terrorism has the US evaluating whether to continue lifting sanctions on its oil sector, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said.

Tillerson told reporters the review, which he announced on Tuesday (18 April), would not only look at Tehran's compliance with a 2015 nuclear deal but also its behaviour in the region which he said undermined USA interests in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon.

"The JCPOA fails to achieve the objective of a non-nuclear Iran, " Tillerson said, using an acronym for the 2015 nuclear deal.

The certification probably indicates the outcome of the Trump administration's review of the JCPOA is a forgone conclusion just like a similar review in 2001 by the Bush administration of a deeply-flawed nuclear agreement with North Korea.

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.

Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian at Rice University, said Trump may be allowing himself to argue in the future that existing deals can be improved without being totally discarded.

In his letter to Ryan, Tillerson said that "Iran remains a leading state sponsor of terror through many platforms and methods".

Left unchecked, Middle East nation can "travel the same path as North Korea", Tillerson says.

The State Department must provide an update to Congress every 90 days.

Appearing in the same NewsHour program, James Robbin, a former special assistant in the defense secretary's office during the George W. Bush administration, said a USA pullout from the nuclear deal would not be without precedent.

He said it delayed rather than blocked Iran's goal of becoming a nuclear state, ignoring arguments even by critics that it has reduced a significant security threat for now.

In February, Trump had described the nuclear deal with Iran as "the worst" agreement ever negotiated, calling the Islamic Republic the number one terrorist state in the world.

The secretary of state earlier acknowledged the Iranians had met the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal.

Mr Tillerson accused Iran of undermining United States interests in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

He also said he thought the threshold for any USA withdrawal from the JCPOA would be "quite high", given that it could have "very significant diplomatic consequences" for Washington.

Sanctions were lifted after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) certified Tehran had restricted its sensitive nuclear activities.

The latest escalation of these threats came as Trump's defense secretary, Gen. James "Mad Dog" Mattis, is conducting a tour of the Middle East, with meetings scheduled with Iran's principal regional enemies, including the Saudi and Qatari monarchies and Israel.

However, the USA admitted that Tehran was complying with the 2015 agreement, the BBC said.