ibusinesslines.com May 21, 2018

Once critical of global deals, Trump slow to pull out of any

21 April 2017, 05:09 | Erica Roy

Once critical of global deals, Trump slow to pull out of any

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt speaks to employees of the EPA in Washington. Dow Chemical is pushing the Trump administration to scrap the finding

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the nuclear agreement with Iran risks repeating mistakes of past us policy toward North Korea, underscoring a tough Trump administration line against both countries.

This week the secretary of state informed congress that Tehran is keeping its side of the bargain to restrict its nuclear programme in exchange for the lifting of sanctions, which he's required to confirm every 90 days.

Indeed, "an unchecked Iran has the potential to travel the same path as North Korea", he said.

Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian at Rice University, said Trump may be allowing himself to argue in the future that existing deals can be improved without being totally discarded.

While campaigning Trump often criticized the deal, which was negotiated between six nations and Iran, calling it "the worst deal ever negotiated".

"So we are going to review completely the JCPOA itself".

"We understand there is some tough talk for internal consumption and the U.S. electorate", one Western diplomat explained.

Tillerson's hastily arranged statement before cameras at the State Department reflected the competing forces pulling at the Trump administration as it develops its policy toward Iran.

However, in a letter sent late Tuesday to House Speaker Paul Ryan, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the administration has undertaken a full review of the agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. "None of the other countries would be up for that".

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

But now, his administration is renewing the agreement. The immediate concern is the ways in which the financial relief provided by the deal's rollback of sanctions is being used by Iran to destabilize the region.

Critics, though, say it fails to achieve even that, because key restrictions on Iran's nuclear development program are phased out after a decade or more. He said the National Security Council-led interagency review of the agreement will evaluate whether it "is vital to the national security interests of the United States".

Speaking alongside the Saudi crown prince on Wednesday, Mattis offered an obsequious tribute to the 31-year-old "royal highness" while vowing to "reinforce Saudi Arabia's resistance to Iran's mischief and make you more effective with your military as we work together as partners". He said this review must address all the threats posed by Iran, adding, "It's clear there are many".

What is the U.S. doing about Iran?

Like the diplomats, Kirby said the administration may be looking for political cover.

Iran and major powers led by the USA made a deal in 2015 to curb Tehran's nuclear ambitions in exchange for easing economic sanctions. 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. The United States has long accused Iran of being the world's biggest state sponsor of terrorism, saying Tehran supported conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, and backed groups such as Hezbollah, its Lebanon-based ally.

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