US Mulls Violating Iranian Nuclear Deal Although Iran Keeps It, Tillerson Says

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the Trump Administration is weighing whether to break the terms of the Iranian nuclear deal, even though Iran is upholding its end. Photo: US Department of State

The administration of US President Donald Trump is considering whether to break the 2015 deal on the Iranian nuclear program, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said, while admitting that Iran is upholding the deal’s terms.

The Iranian nuclear deal in question (known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) was signed in July 2015 by Iran and six foreign powers (US, China, Russia, UK, France, and Germany, with the involvement of the EU) to ensure that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only, and not for the development of nuclear weapons.

The agreement was championed by former US President Barack Obama and his Administration as one of its landmark foreign policy achievements. However, it has come under severe criticism by the new US President Donald Trump long before his election and inauguration.

The Iranian nuclear deal has been heavily criticized by some Republican Congressmen and by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

At the start of the Trump Administration in January and February, US relations with Iran worsened after the Islamic Republic carried out ballistic missiles tests, and new US sanctions against Iran were announced.

US President Trump included Iran in the travel and immigration blacklist, together with several other Muslim Middle Eastern countries, in both of his “Muslim travel ban” executive orders, which have been blocked by the courts.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said late on Tuesday that the Trump Administration was weighing whether to effectively break the terms of the Iranian nuclear deal, while certifying that Iran is upholding its terms, NBC News reported.

The administration is looking at whether to continue lifting sanctions the Obama administration agreed to under the nuclear deal negotiated by six world powers.

“Iran remains a leading state sponsor of terror through many platforms and methods,” Tillerson said in a letter to the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Paul Ryan.

Tillerson’s letter was a certification of Iran’s compliance with the 2015 deal, which must be sent to Congress every 90 days.

It was the first Iranian nuclear deal certification issued by the Trump Administration, and was sent hours before the deadline expired at midnight.

NBC News notes that the six powers that negotiated the 2015 deal set aside Iran’s alleged support for terrorism to get a deal guaranteeing that Iran would not be able to build a nuclear weapon for a decade, and would remain under the eye of UN weapons inspectors.

“Iran is compliant through April 18th with its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” as certified by the State Department, the statement from US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s office said.

In his letter, Tillerson revealed that the review of whether the US should continue to honor the Iranian nuclear deal had been ordered by President Donald Trump.

He called Trump’s order an effort “to evaluate whether continuing to lift sanctions would be in US national security interests.”

At the time the Iranian nuclear deal was reached, Trump called it “terrible” and said it would “lead to nuclear holocaust.”

Former US President Barack Obama argued that the deal on Iran’s nuclear program, one of  the longest-standing issues in international politics in the past two decades, wouldl make the world safer and more secure.

“Iran will not get its hands on a nuclear bomb,” Obama said back in January 2016 after the deal was implemented.

He also informed back then that Iran’s current uranium stockpile was 2% of what it had been before the agreement, and the country has removed two-thirds of its nuclear centrifuges.

In January 2016, the International Atomic Energy Agency verified that Iran was complying with the terms of the nuclear deal, and as a result some international sanctions against the Islamic Republic were lifted.

The sanctions had drastically reduced crude oil exports from Iran. After their lifting, Iran’s oil exports surged.

Iran was also exempted from an OPEC deal to reduce output by 1.2 million barrels of oi per day starting on January 1, 2017. Iran argued that it needed to regain market share it had lost during the sanctions over its nuclear program.