Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday that the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran “fails to achieve the objective of a non-nuclear Iran; it only delays their goal of becoming a nuclear state.”
In prepared remarks to the press, Tillerson said the deal “represents the same failed approach of the past that brought us to the current imminent threat we face from North Korea.” He also faulted the accord for ignoring “all of the other serious threats that Iran poses.”
Tillerson indicated that the Trump administration is currently reviewing its policies toward Iran, which he said “is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism and is responsible for intensifying multiple conflicts and undermining U.S. interests in countries such as Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and Lebanon, and continuing to support attacks against Israel.”
“A comprehensive Iran policy requires that we address all of the threats posed by Iran, and it is clear there are many,” Tillerson added.
He charged Iran with aiding “the brutal Assad regime in Syria … even as it commits atrocities against its own people, including with chemical weapons. Iran provides arms, financing, and training, and funnels foreign fighters into Syria. It has also sent members of the Iran Revolutionary Guard to take part in direct combat operations.”
Tillerson pointed out that Iran’s destabilizing activities span across the Middle East: it backs Shiite militias in Iraq, arms anti-government Houthi rebels in Yemen, and funds and trains Hamas and other anti-Israel terror groups in the Palestinian territories. At a military parade on Tuesday, Iran reportedly displayed signs saying “death to Israel,” Tillerson observed.
Iran also threatens open shipping in the Persian Gulf by “harassing U.S. naval vessels that are operating lawfully,” the secretary said. He similarly faulted the Islamic Republic for launching cyber-attacks again the U.S. and its allies, as well as for attempting to kill Adel al-Jubeir, then the Saudi Arabian ambassador to Washington, on American soil in 2011.
In a letter Tuesday, Tillerson informed Congress that while the White House found Iran to be in compliance with the nuclear deal thus far, it was reviewing whether continued sanctions relief to Tehran was in the security interests of the U.S. Tillerson’s statement to reporters Wednesday echoed a tougher line toward Iran that had been advocated by other members of the administration.
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