Tillerson: US must consider broader Iran threats when formulating new strategy
The United States 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 on Thursday, 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 minister 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.”
He was speaking before the United States announced it had imposed sanctions on seven Iranian individuals and two entities, alleging involvement in either malicious cyber activities or enabling Tehran’s nuclear program.
US President Donald Trump has previously expressed doubts about the nuclear deal, and in April his administration said it would review whether the lifting of sanctions against Iran was in the United States’ national security interest.
Trump is weighing a strategy that could allow more aggressive US responses to Iran’s forces, its proxies in Iraq and Syria, and its support for militant groups.