In remarks on Wednesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Iran was guilty of “alarming ongoing provocations” that aimed to destabilize the Middle East and threaten U.S. allies.
“An unchecked Iran has the potential to travel the same path as North Korea and to take the world along with it,” Tillerson said. “A comprehensive Iran policy requires we address all of the threats posed by Iran, and it is clear there are many.”
The State Department announced this week that they would be reviewing U.S. policy in regards to Iran and the nuclear deal entered into by the Obama administration. And while the diplomatic agency has confirmed to Congress that Iran is still living up to their end of the nuclear bargain, Tillerson said the deal itself was not enough to keep Iran from building the bomb.
In a Twitter response, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said the two situations could not be true simultaneously. Either Iran was following the deal or they weren’t.
“Worn-out US accusations can’t mask its admission of Iran’s compliance w/ JCPOA, obligating US to change course & fulfill its own commitments,” wrote Zarif.
But in his remarks, Tillerson said that the deal itself was fundamentally flawed.
“It only delays their goal of becoming a nuclear state,” he said. “The Trump administration has no intention of passing the buck to a future administration on Iran.”
The National Iranian American Council, which supports the nuclear agreement, said that Tillerson’s comments were wrongheaded and dangerous.
“Public statements lambasting the nuclear deal with Iran as a ‘failed approach’ and comparing the country with North Korea are reckless and blatantly false,” the group said. “This comes just one day after Secretary Tillerson acknowledged that Iran was complying with the terms of the nuclear deal. Such ambivalent policy positions have come to define this administration.”
Difficult Choices Lie Ahead
Experts say that the real test of Trump’s position on the deal will be in May, when the president decides whether or not to sign waivers giving Iran continued relief from economic sanctions. Few insiders expect President Trump to abandon the deal altogether, but if he tightens sanctions, the hardliners in Iran could demand an exit from the pact.
Trump the Candidate, of course, campaigned hard against the Iranian nuclear deal – at one point vowing to rip it to shreds on Day One of his presidency. But even critics of the deal say that would be a mistake since Iran has already received more than $100 billion in frozen funds as a result of the agreement. At this point, they say, we may as well stick it out and hope for the best.
If Iran does indeed renege on the deal before using those billions to accelerate their path to the bomb, Obama will go down in history as one of the most foolish American presidents of all time.
That is, if there’s any history left to remember him.