Tiller­son says US must con­sider full threat when for­mu­lat­ing Iran pol­icy

Wash­ing­ton ex­tends some sanc­tions re­lief un­der nu­clear deal


LON­DON: The US must con­sider the full threat it says Iran poses to the Mid­dle East when for­mu­lat­ing its new pol­icy to­ward Tehran, US Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son said, adding that Iran had breached the spirit of a 2015 nu­clear deal.

Tiller­son made the com­ments dur­ing a visit to Britain to see Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May and For­eign Sec­re­tary Boris John­son. The trip was billed as fo­cus­ing on the re­lief ef­fort af­ter Hur­ri­cane Irma, how to re­spond to North Korea’s nu­clear test, and re­solv­ing the po­lit­i­cal dead­lock in Libya.

But he was out­spo­ken in his crit­i­cism of Iran when asked whether he be­lieved it was meet­ing the obli­ga­tions of a 2015 in­ter­na­tional nu­clear agree­ment de­signed to curb an Ira­nian nu­clear program in re­turn for lift­ing most West­ern sanc­tions.

Tiller­son cited the pref­ace of the nu­clear deal, which calls on Iran to con­trib­ute pos­i­tively to re­gional se­cu­rity.

“In our view, Iran is clearly in de­fault of these ex­pec­ta­tions ... through their ac­tions to prop up the As­sad regime (in Syria), to en­gage in ma­li­cious ac­tiv­i­ties in the re­gion, in­clud­ing cy­ber ac­tiv­i­ties, ag­gres­sively de­vel­op­ing bal­lis­tic mis­siles,” he told a news con­fer­ence.

“We have to con­sider the to­tal­ity of Iran’s ac­tiv­i­ties and not let our view be de­fined solely by the nu­clear agree­ment.”

Tiller­son’s re­marks came as the State Depart­ment said the US had ex­tended some sanc­tions re­lief for Iran un­der the 2015 nu­clear deal, but no de­ci­sion had been made on whether to pre­serve the deal it­self.

At the same time, US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said that Iran is vi­o­lat­ing “the spirit” of the nu­clear deal, and the US Trea­sury an­nounced new sanc­tions on about a dozen en­ti­ties or in­di­vid­u­als of Ira­nian and other na­tion­al­i­ties for ac­tiv­i­ties re­lated to Iran. “We are not go­ing to stand for what they are do­ing,” Trump told re­porters on Air Force One.

But he stopped short of say­ing whether he will refuse to re­cer­tify the agree­ment.

State Depart­ment spokes­woman Heather Nauert said the ad­min­is­tra­tion ap­proved waivers of some sanc­tions to “main­tain some flex­i­bil­ity” as it de­vel­ops a pol­icy to ad­dress the range of Ira­nian be­hav­ior.

“Waiv­ing some of those sanc­tions should not be seen as an in­di­ca­tion of Pres­i­dent Trump or his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s po­si­tion on the (Iran nu­clear deal), nor is the waiver giv­ing the Ira­nian regime a pass on its broad range of ma­lign be­hav­ior,” she said at a news brief­ing.

US Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son ad­dresses a press con­fer­ence in Lon­don on Thurs­day. (AFP)

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