Tehran, Washington in war of words over nuclear deal
Iranian and U.S. officials have engaged in a fresh war of words over a nuclear deal that aimed to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on April 20 criticized “worn-out” U.S. accusations a day after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson accused Iran of “alarming ongoing provocations” to destabilize countries in the Middle East.
“Worn-out U.S. accusations can’t mask its admission of Iran’s compliance” with a 2015 nuclear deal that was reached after years of grueling talks, Zarif wrote on Twitter.
Iran says is nuclear program is purely for peaceful purposes but signed a deal with world powers to restrict its fuel enrichment for 10 years in exchange for sanctions relief.
Tillerson said on April 19 that Tehran has so far met its obligations, but that the deal could only delay Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon.
The deal “fails to achieve the objective of a non-nuclear Iran,” he said, and was a product of “the same failed approach of the past that brought us to the current imminent threat we face from North Korea.”
Zarif said Iran’s compliance had forced the U.S. administration of President Donald Trump “to change course and fulfill its own commitments.”
Tillerson told reporters the review, which he announced on April 18, would not only look at Tehran’s compliance with a 2015 nuclear deal but also its behavior in the region which he said undermined U.S. interests in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon.
His tough words matched those of U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who said in a visit to Saudi Arabia that Iran’s destabilizing influence would have to be overcome to end the conflict in Yemen.
Trump described the nuclear accord as the “worst deal ever negotiated” during his campaign and threatened to tear it up, but analysts say that is increasingly unlikely.
Trump’s spokesman Sean Spicer said a review would be conducted by U.S. government agencies over the next 90 days on whether to stick by the deal.