United States President Donald Trump issued an ultimatum to Europe earlier this month—fix problems with the Iran nuclear deal or the United States will pull out of the accord this spring. On Saturday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson confirmed that talks have started and they are seeking to determine exactly what needs to be addressed to bolster efforts to counter Iran’s nefarious actions and nuclear ambitions.
Tillerson, in a press briefing published by the State Department, said they have agreed to work with Europe to “identify what areas we believe have to be addressed and a mechanism by which we can address those.” He said that working groups have been meeting in an effort to reach agreement on principles, “what is the scope of what we will attempt to address, and also how might we engage the Iranians on discussions to address these issues.”
Said Tillerson, “The work is underway. If it was easy, it would have already been done. We recognize the challenges, but we think we have to do everything we can to address those.”
But it would be a mistake to assume that the nuclear deal is all the US cares about when it comes to Iran. To that end, Tillerson noted that the American policy on Iran is “about much, much more than the nuclear agreement. The nuclear agreement only represents a small part of the policy. The U.S. has greater concerns and more immediate concerns regarding Iran’s malign behaviors throughout the region.”
The top American diplomat listed support for rebels in the Yemen civil war—which includes rockets fired from Yemen at Saudi Arabia—and support for the Hezbollah terrorist group and militias in Iraq and Syria as other destabilizing activities by Iran.
Said Tillerson, “Our work group also is intended to identify areas of greater cooperation between Europe to push back on Iran’s malign behaviors as well.”
He noted that his country’s allies are also concerned by the “long list” of Iranian actions that trouble the US.
One concerned ally is Israel, and that nation’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, met with President Trump and other world leaders recently to discuss Iran. In comments released by Netanyahu’s office on Sunday, the Israeli leader summarized the Iran portion of his conversation with Trump.
“We discussed the need to block Iran’s aggression in the region and its attempts to achieve nuclear weapons via the failed nuclear agreement that must be either fixed or nixed,” said Netanyahu. He said he also spoke “at length” on the topic with French President Emanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whom he termed Israel’s “friends.”
While Europe may need convincing, Trump is resolved on the Iranian nuclear issue. Said Tillerson, “As to the Iranian nuclear agreement, President Trump has been quite clear on his view that that agreement has a number of flaws, and he intends to have those flaws addressed.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, January 28, 2018)