US: Iran 'in Default of the Spirit' of Nuclear Deal
But Trump administration still gives wary recertification of Iran's compliance
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 18, 2017 7:35 AM CDT
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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is seen in a March 2017 file photo.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

(Newser) – The US, five other countries, and the EU reached a deal with Iran two years ago this month to make sure the latter's "nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful," and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recertified on Monday that Iran was complying with the agreement, as is required every 90 days. But the New York Times reports Trump signed off "only reluctantly," after "hours of arguing with his top national security advisers." NPR notes that senior administration officials don't believe the "peaceful" part of the deal is a given, warning that Iran is still a possible danger to both the Middle East and the US. Still, the country's compliance checkmark is the second since Trump took office, even though on the campaign trail he called the agreement "the worst deal ever" and vowed to "rip it up" as soon as he got into the White House.

Iran is still "one of the most dangerous threats to US interests and to regional stability," one senior administration official told reporters Monday, per Reuters, detailing all of the ways in which the country remains problematic. Those issues include Iran's enabling of terrorism in Syria and its continued development of ballistic missiles, which, in combination with other issues, leaves Iran "unquestionably in default of the spirit of the [deal]" signed by the US, the EU, France, Britain, Russia, China, and Germany. The White House plans to handle this, per the official, by tightening the agreement (and then enforcing its mandates), and taking on "the totality of Iran's malign behavior" beyond the nuclear deal, which could include new sanctions, per CNN. Trump aides tell the Times the president is "frustrated" and won't keep recertifying compliance if Iran doesn't get its act together.

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