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Tillerson declares the Iran nuclear deal a failure

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Reuters

"An unchecked Iran has the potential to travel the same path as North Korea and to take the world along with it", Tillerson told reporters a day after announcing a review of US policy towards Iran, including sanctions against Tehran. The deal stank, he said then.

In an ominous warning, Tillerson linked Iran's behavior to North Korea's and said the United States would no longer engage in "strategic patience" with either country.

Tillerson expressed fears that Iran could develop into a threat similar to North Korea.

In a letter to Congress, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that Iran is meeting the terms of the 2015 deal worked out with the Obama administration and five other countries.

Tillerson's certification also "indicates that the Trump administration has had a sort of... coming of age, to realize that this nuclear deal is not such a bad deal that President Trump was declaring during the campaign", Emad Kiyaei, a policy advisor with the American-Iranian Council, a non-profit whose mission is to provide a "sustainable dialogue and a more comprehensive understanding of US-Iran relations", told Reason.

The administration official countered that "Iran's program is ongoing, they continue to enrich uranium, and other regional powers are already considering their options".

During the presidential campaign, Trump called the Iran deal a "disaster" and the "worst deal ever negotiated", although he did not challenge the premise of making the deal in the first place, and unlike numerous other Republican candidates, did not promise to rip it up on his first day in office.

Despite the sanctions relief, Iran remains on the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism for its support of anti-Israel groups and is still subject to non-nuclear sanctions, including for human rights abuses and for its backing of Syrian President Bashar Assad's government.

"Part of the review.is to determine where Iran is in compliance with the deal and to make recommendations to the president on the path forward", Spicer said.

It was an attempt to clarify a State Department certification, issued shortly before a midnight deadline on Tuesday, that said Iran was complying with the nuclear agreement that also eased crippling worldwide sanctions against the Islamic republic's economy. After the deal was negotiated, he worked with Congress to maintain USA sanctions targeting Iran's missile development and alleged human rights violations. The United States has been looking for ways to address the threat of North Korea's nuclear program, which is significantly farther along than Iran's.

Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the Trump administration appeared to be preparing a tougher line against Iran.

"The deal is working and there's absolutely no reason to pull away from it", Barbara Slavin, acting director of the Future of Iran Initiative at the Atlantic Council in Washington, said in an interview Wednesday. Obama, Kerry and others who negotiated the deal strenuously defended its terms and said the agreement made Israel, the Middle East and the world a safer place.

Still, the administration has sought since its first days in office to ratchet up pressure on Iran.

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