Tillerson Says Iran Sponsors Terrorism, Starts Review Of Nuclear Deal

PHOTO: REUTERS/Carlos Barria

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Will Racke Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter
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The Trump administration announced Tuesday it will conduct an inter-agency review of the lifting of sanctions against Iran in response to concerns about Tehran’s continued sponsorship of terrorism.

In a letter to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Iran was complying with its obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) but that the Department of State would re-evaluate if easing sanctions on Iran is the best course of action for the U.S.

“Iran remains a leading state sponsor of terror, through many platforms and methods,” Tillerson said in a statement. “President Donald J. Trump has directed a National Security Council-led inter-agency review of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that will evaluate whether suspension of sanctions related to Iran pursuant to the JCPOA is vital to the national security interests of the United States.”

The U.S., Iran and other major powers signed the JCPOA, commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal, in 2016. The agreement restricts Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from international energy and financial sanctions.

Under the deal, Iran must reduce its number of centrifuges by two-thirds, cap uranium enrichment below the level needed for weapons-grade material, and submit to international inspections to confirm compliance.

Trump has ripped JCPOA several times during his campaign, calling it “the worst deal ever negotiated” and raising questions about whether the U.S. would remain party to the agreement under his administration.

The deal stipulates that the State Department must notify Congress every 90 days regarding Iran’s compliance. Tillerson’s letter is the first notification under the Trump administration.

Defense Secretary James Mattis said last month that Iran continues to export terrorism and sponsor the activity of its ally Hezbollah, a Lebanon-based terrorist group. (RELATED: Saudi Arabia Warns Iran Is Trying To Turn Yemen Into A ‘Missile Base’)

The U.S. has accused Tehran of supporting terrorist groups in conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen for over a decade.

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