State Dept.: Iran complying with nuclear deal but not 'spirit' of pact

By Danielle Haynes Follow @DanielleHaynes1 Contact the Author   |   July 17, 2017 at 10:52 PM
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July 17 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Monday notified Congress that though Iran is complying with the nuclear agreement, the country "remains one of the most dangerous to U.S. interests and regional stability," senior administration officials said.

The State Department was required to tell Congress by Monday whether Iran was adhering to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreement with the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council -- China, France, Russia, Britain and the United States, plus Germany) and the European Union. The certification is required every 90 days.

Briefing reporters prior to the announcement, senior administration officials said that though Iran was complying with the letter of the JCPOA, the country is "unquestionably in default of the spirit" of the agreement. Officials pointed to other, non-nuclear threats, including complicity in the atrocities committed by the Assad regime in Syria, freedom of navigation waterways in the Middle East, cyberattacks against the United States and other countries, and the arbitrary detention of foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens.

"These Iranian activities severely undermine the intent of the deal," one official said.

The Trump administration "intends to employ a strategy that will address the totality of Iran's malign behavior," he added.

Moving forward, the administration plans to work with allies to address what it perceives as flaws in the JCPOA and ways to more strictly enforce it. The officials declined to identify which allies they're working with to make changes to the deal and to interpret it more stringently.

Trump's "commitments to fixing these flaws remains steadfast," an official said when asked why the administration is certifying Iran's compliance despite Trump calling it the worst deal he's ever seen.

The Obama administration signed the JCPOA in 2015 to limit Iran's ability to create nuclear weapons in exchange for an easing of sanctions against the country.

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