U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Wednesday that the United States will conduct a “comprehensive review” of its Iran policy, including the 2015 nuclear deal. He noted that the nuclear agreement has merely delayed Iran’s goal of becoming a nuclear state. Tillerson also noted that without the right policy toward Iran, it could go the way of North Korea.
“This deal represents the same failed approach of the past that brought us to the current imminent threat we face in North Korea,” said Tillerson. “The Trump administration has no intention of passing the buck to a future administration on Iran. The evidence is clear Iran’s provocative actions threaten the U.S., the region and the world.”
The Trump administration has ordered a review of the Iran nuclear deal and the related sanctions that were lifted as part of the agreement. During his campaign for presidency, Donald Trump repeatedly called the agreement “the worst deal ever negotiated”. In 2015, Trump said of Iran, “They are going to be such a wealthy, such a powerful nation. They are going to have nuclear weapons. They are going to take over parts of the world that you wouldn’t believe. And I think it’s going to lead to nuclear holocaust.” There have been contradictory statements, however, whether President Trump would scrap the 2015 nuclear agreement or vigilantly enforce it. “It’s very hard to say, ‘We are ripping it up.’” But he also said that he would be vigilant in policing that contract.
Tillerson notified Congress that despite finding that Iran is in compliance with the agreement, the White House is looking at whether the U.S. should break with the deal because of Iran’s continued support of terrorism in the region. The agreement was brokered by putting aside Iran’s alleged support of terrorism to get a deal guaranteeing Iran would not be able to build a nuclear weapon for a decade and would remain in the eye of U.N. inspectors.
Although billions of dollars of Iran’s assets were unfrozen as a result of the negotiations, U.S. sanctions against Iran because of their support of terrorism were not considered to be part of the agreement. The certification of Iran’s compliance, which must be sent to Congress every 90 days, was the first issued by Trump’s administration.
Part of Tillerson’s list of abuses by Iran, including accusing Iran of sponsoring terrorism in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Lebanon and against Israel. Other grievances included the harassment of U.S. naval vessels, the conducting of cyber-attacks, the arbitrary detention of foreigners, including U.S. citizens, and the carrying out of ballistic missile tests in violation of U.N. resolutions.
“The militia they maintain, Lebanese Hezbollah that they support in Lebanon, that militia is contributing thousands of fighters, and of course Iran’s got its own military inside Syria continuing to hold [President Bashar] Assad in power,” said U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis while in Saudi Arabia this week. “Everywhere you look, if there is trouble inside the region you find Iran.”
Currently, Iran is considered the foremost state sponsor of terror, surpassing even Syria and Sudan. According to the most recent State Department report, the Islamic Republic of Iran provides a range of support to terrorist groups, “including financial, training, and equipment.” Most notably, that support is directed through the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), particularly its Quds Force, and the foreign terrorist organization, Hezbollah.
A bipartisan group of senators presented a bill in March that would impose new sanctions on Iran for sponsoring terrorism, as well as for its ballistic missile tests, but the bill has been delayed over concerns about the Iranian election in May.