The Trump administration has announced it will examine not just the nuclear deal with Iran but all potential threats posed by the country. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson accused Tehran of "alarming provocations."
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday promised that the United States would review all actions taken by Iran on account of its "alarming ongoing provocations" aimed at destabilizing the Middle East and US interests there.
Among the key policies to fall under review was the nuclear deal brokered in 2015 between Iran and world powers, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Under the agreement, negotiated during Barack Obama's presidency, Iran agreed to place limits on its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
Tillerson's comments on Wednesday came just a day after the State Department said Iran is complying with the nuclear agreement. The US government must present a report on Tehran's compliance with the deal every 90 days, and Tuesday's update was the first conducted by President Donald Trump's administration.
However, addressing reporters in Washington, Tillerson branded the deal a failure, adding that Trump had ordered a review to evaluate whether the lifting of sanctions was "vital to the national security interests of the United States."
While Tillerson said the United States would not intend to walk away from the landmark accord, he argued the deal was merely a way for Iran to delay the development of a nuclear weapon.
The JCPOA "fails to achieve the objective of a non-nuclear Iran," the top US diplomat said. "This deal represents the same failed approach of the past that brought us to the current imminent threat we face from North Korea."
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif responded on Twitter, accusing the US of making excuses to avoid implementing its side of the deal.
During the presidential campaign, Trump described the nuclear accord with Iran "the worst deal ever negotiated."
Iran's regional rivals Israel and Saudi Arabia have also decried the accord for not forcing Iran to shut down its nuclear industry completely nor forever.
Strengthening the grip on Tehran?
However, while Washington may not be prepared to completely break with the accord and re-introduce sanctions lifted as part of the deal, it could impose new penalties against Iran for its alleged sponsorship of terrorist organizations in other countries.
"We have to look at Iran in a comprehensive way in terms of the threat it poses and all areas of the region and the world. And the JCPOA is one element of that," Tillerson said. "So we are going to review completely the JCPOA itself... It is another example of buying off a power who has nuclear ambitions and we buy them off for a short period of time and someone has to deal with it later."
Tillerson's comments echoed those of U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who during a visit to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday said Tehran's destabilizing influence in the Middle East would need to be overcome to foster a peaceful solution in Yemen.
dm/sms (Reuters, AFP)