by Michael B Marois and Nick Wadhams
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson certified that Iran is complying with the multinational deal to curb its nuclear program but announced a review that could result in scuttling the accord.
Tillerson, in report to Congress required every 90 days, said Iran is compliant through April 18th with its commitments in the accord signed in 2015 that provided relief from economic sanctions that crimped Iran’s oil exports and hobbled its economy. Still, President Donald Trump ordered his National Security Council to review whether to reimpose the sanctions because of Iran’s continued support for terrorism.
“Iran remains a leading state sponsor of terror, through many platforms and methods,” Tillerson wrote in the letter to Congress. He said the review will evaluate whether the suspension of sanctions “is vital to the national security interests of the United States.”
Trump has panned the agreement, saying it still would allow Iran to eventually build nuclear weapons. During last year’s presidential campaign Trump called for dismantling or renegotiating the deal. Republicans in Congress also have been critics and have advocated imposing new sanctions on Iran for supporting terrorism and for its ballistic missile programs. Such a move would face opposition from European allies and cause Tehran to walk away from the accord.
Under the agreement, Iran is allowed to enrich and store some uranium for power production. The Obama administration insisted it would slow the time it would take Iran to produce nuclear weapons.
Opponents of the deal, including Mark Dubowitz, the chief executive of the Washington think-tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies, have called for renegotiating the deal with the goal of making permanent its 15 year moratorium on uranium enrichment above the level needed to make a bomb.
“At the heart of the (agreement) is a fatal flaw: Iran does not need to cheat to reach threshold nuclear weapons capabilities. By following the deal, and waiting patiently for key constraints to disappear, Tehran can emerge as a threshold nuclear power with an industrial-size enrichment program,” Dubowitz told a congressional committee April 5.