Trump administration to review Iran sanctions relief: State Dept

  • Trump administration to review Iran sanctions relief: State Dept

Trump administration to review Iran sanctions relief: State Dept

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tore into a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, saying it only delayed the country's ambition to gain weapons of mass destruction and didn't take into account its role in sponsoring terrorism and destabilizing other countries.

"Iran's nuclear ambitions are a grave risk to worldwide peace and security", Tillerson said in brief remarks from the State Department Treaty Room about the administration's interagency review of the Iran nuclear deal forged by former U.S. president Barack Obama and world powers in July 2015.

However, in a letter to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Tillerson said the administration has ordered an inter-agency review of whether the suspension of sanctions was in the US' national security interests.

In a letter to Congress, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that Iran is meeting the terms of the 2015 deal worked out with the Obama administration and five other countries.

The accord put some limits on Iran's nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of economic and financial sanctions against the country.

President Trump has described the landmark agreement as the "worst deal ever".

The nuclear deal was sealed in Vienna in July 2015 after 18 months of negotiations led by former Secretary of State John Kerry and diplomats from the other four permanent members of the U.N. Security Council - Britain, China, France and Russian Federation - and Germany.

"An unchecked Iran has the potential to travel the same path as North Korea - and to take the world along with it, " Tillerson said.

Illustrative: Iran's heavy water nuclear facilities near the central city of Arak.

"This deal represents the same failed approach of the past that brought us to the current imminent threat we face from North Korea", Tillerson said of the nuclear deal. He had said in January of 2016 after the deal was implemented that "Iran will not get its hands on a nuclear bomb".

It was an attempt to clarify a State Department certification, issued shortly before a midnight deadline on Tuesday, that said Iran was complying with the nuclear agreement that also eased crippling global sanctions against the Islamic republic's economy.

The tough talk followed the most tangible step taken by Tillerson on Iran: Certifying to Congress late Tuesday that the Islamic Republic is complying with the terms of the nuclear deal, a finding required by law every 90 days.

Iran also "maintains a long-standing hostility towards Israel, providing weapons, training and funding to Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist organizations", said the secretary of state, citing reports that Iran displayed a missile inscribed "death to Israel" during a military parade on Tuesday.

Trump has panned what he's called "the awful Iran deal" reached by the US and five other world powers under his predecessor, Barack Obama.

In his comments Wednesday, Tillerson criticized Iran for its hostility toward Israel, its sponsorship of Houthi rebels in Yemen and its backing of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Wednesday that Trump has not decided whether he intends to pull out of the deal or not, and that this review will help shape his opinion.