U.S. accuses Iran of 'alarming provocations'

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U.S. accuses Iran of 'alarming provocations'

Tillerson also noted that an interagency review "will evaluate whether [the] suspension of sanctions....is vital to the national security interests of the United States".

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.

"Everywhere you look if there is trouble in the region, you find Iran", Mattis said. "The Trump administration is now conducting a comprehensive review of our Iran policy".

Then-Secretary of State John Kerry was emphatic that Iran agreed non-nuclear-related sanctions did not violate the nuclear deal at a July 2015 hearing.

Under the deal, the State Department must notify Congress every 90 days on Iran's compliance under the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The then U.S. administration under president Barack Obama hailed it as a victory for diplomacy over the threat of another new war to disarm a rogue state in an already unstable region. "We just don't see that that's a prudent way to be dealing with Iran". But neither Iran nor the other world powers that negotiated the agreement have any interest in reopening the deal, and USA companies stand to lose billions if it's scuttled.

"Without knowing how the President will exercise these new sanctions authorities, it is unclear what implications such provisions may have for United States adherence to its commitments", NIAC said.

But Tillerson is leaving open the possibility that the Trump administration will uphold it anyway. The U.S. has been exploring ways to address the threat of North Korea's nuclear program, which is significantly farther along than Iran's.

Iran has continued to test ballistic missiles - which was not part of the nuclear agreement - and Iran has kept up its staunch support of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Tillerson is also likening Iran's behavior to that of North Korea.

But he declined to say whether he meant to "renegotiate" the deal, as he asserted regularly during the presidential campaign.

Tillerson remarked that as Iran was still a major state sponsor of terrorism, the president had ordered a thorough review of the impact lifting sanctions had on American security.

Former President Barack Obama would have agreed with all the charges: that Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism, that it supports proxies which undermine U.S. interests in the region, that it's hostile to Israel and that its ballistic missile tests challenge UN Security Council prohibitions. The administration already implemented new sanctions on Iran in early February for testing a missile. Iran was required to give up nearly all of its enriched uranium, which can be used to make a nuclear weapon, and is subject to ongoing inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Spicer said sanctions have been "an effective tool", but added that the administration recognized the possible consequences of increasing sanctions.

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