Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has termed the Obama-era nuclear deal with Iran a failure, and said the US is carrying out a comprehensive review of its policy towards the country. Tillerson said the deal fails to achieve the objective of a non-nuclear Iran and only “delays” its goal of becoming a nuclear state. “This deal represents the same failed approach of the past that brought us to the current imminent threat we face from North Korea. The Trump administration has no intention of passing the buck to a future administration on Iran,” he said at a hurriedly convened press briefing yesterday.
Tillerson’s comments came a day after the Trump administration notified Congress that Iran is complying with the 2015 nuclear deal negotiated by former President Barack Obama, and it has extended the sanctions relief given to the Islamic country in exchange for curbs on its atomic programme. However, in a letter to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Tillerson said the administration has ordered an inter-agency review of whether the suspension of sanctions was in the US’ national security interests. He also described the country as a “leading state sponsor of terror”.
Reiterating the charge yesterday, Tillerson said Iran’s provocative actions threaten the United States, the region and the world. The Trump administration is currently conducting a “comprehensive review” of Iran policy, he said. “An unchecked Iran has the potential to travel the same path as North Korea and take the world along with it. The United States is keen to avoid a second piece of evidence that strategic patience is a failed approach,” he said.
He also levelled a series of accusations at Iran — intensifying multiple conflicts including the one in Syria, undermining US interests in several countries, continuing to support attacks against Israel, and sponsoring cyber and terror attacks across the world. “Iran’s nuclear ambitions are a grave risk to international peace and security,” the secretary of state said. The six powers that negotiated the 2015 nuclear deal — the US, China, Russia, France, Germany and the UK, with the involvement from the European Union — set aside Iran’s alleged support for 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 UN weapons inspectors.
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. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had criticised the deal. He said in July of 2015 that “Iran is going to receive a sure path to nuclear weapons.” Former US President Barack Obama had said the deal would make the world safer and more secure. He had said in January of 2016 after the deal was implemented that “Iran will not get its hands on a nuclear bomb.” Iran has defended its nuclear programme as purely civilian.