Tiller­son de­clares Iran nu­clear deal to be fail­ure

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - TRUMP: THE FIRST 100 DAYS -

By The As­so­ci­ated Press

WASH­ING­TON — Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son de­clared the Iran nu­clear deal a fail­ure on Wed­nes­day but left open the pos­si­bil­ity the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion will up­hold it none­the­less.

The top Amer­i­can diplo­mat sought to re­in­force the no­tion that the U.S. is ag­gres­sively coun­ter­ing Iran’s desta­bi­liz­ing be­hav­ior through­out the Mid­dle East, even though Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump so far has not pulled out of the deal. Tiller­son spoke a day af­ter cer­ti­fy­ing to Congress that Iran is com­ply­ing with its obli­ga­tions un­der the 2015 deal, a re­quire­ment for Tehran to con­tinue re­ceiv­ing re­lief from nu­clear sanc­tions.

“The JCPOA fails to achieve the ob­jec­tive of a non-nu­clear Iran,” Tiller­son said, us­ing an acro­nym for the 2015 nu­clear deal. “It only de­lays their goal of be­com­ing a nu­clear state.”

He said the deal, bro­kered by then-Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s ad­min­is­tra­tion along with other world pow­ers, rep­re­sented the “same failed ap­proach” the U.S. has taken to North Korea. Like with the North, Tiller­son said, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion was un­will­ing to be pa­tient with Iran, tick­ing through a list of coun­tries where he said Iran was sup­port­ing ter­ror­ism and vi­o­lence.

Tiller­son’s state­ment at the State Depart­ment re­flected the com­pet­ing forces pulling at the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion as it de­vel­ops its pol­icy to­ward Iran. On the one hand, Trump wants to show he’s be­ing tougher than Obama to­ward Iran, but on the other hand, he’s not yet ready to rip up the deal.

Trump as a can­di­date vowed to dis­card or rene­go­ti­ate the pact, and shortly af­ter tak­ing of­fice his ad­min­is­tra­tion put Tehran “on no­tice” that its trou­ble­some be­hav­ior would no longer be tol­er­ated. But nei­ther Iran nor the other world pow­ers that ne­go­ti­ated the agree­ment have any in­ter­est in re­open­ing the deal, and U.S. com­pa­nies stand to lose bil­lions if it is scut­tled.

Pro­po­nents have long ac­knowl­edged it doesn’t ad­dress con­cerns about Iran’s non-nu­clear be­hav­ior, such as its bal­lis­tic mis­sile pro­gram or sup­port for Houthi rebels in Ye­men. Obama and oth­ers ar­gued it was nar­rowly tai­lored to take the most dan­ger­ous prospect — a nu­clear-armed Iran — off the table.

The deal’s crit­ics, though, say it fails to achieve even that goal be­cause key re­stric­tions on Iran’s nu­clear de­vel­op­ment sun­set af­ter a decade or more. With some of those crit­ics now in of­fice, Tiller­son’s com­ments Wed­nes­day marked the first time that po­si­tion has been echoed by the U.S. govern­ment.

Tiller­son said a de­ci­sion on the deal will be made as part of a gov­ern­men­twide re­view of Iran pol­icy cur­rently un­der way.

“The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has no in­ten­tion of pass­ing the buck to a fu­ture ad­min­is­tra­tion on Iran,” Tiller­son said.


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