U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said late Tuesday that the Trump administration is weighing whether to effectively break the terms of the Iran nuclear deal, while certifying that the Islamic nation is upholding terms of the landmark 2015 agreement.
The administration is looking at whether to continue lifting sanctions the Obama administration agreed to under the nuclear deal negotiated by six world powers.
Tillerson said in a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan that "Iran remains a leading state sponsor of terror through many platforms and methods."
The six powers that negotiated the 2015 deal — the U.S., China, Russia, France, Germany and the United Kingdom, with involvement from the European Union — set aside Iran's alleged support for terrorism in order to get a deal guaranteeing that Iran would not be able to build a nuclear weapon for a decade and would remain under the eye of United Nations weapons inspectors.
The certification of Iran's compliance, which must be sent to Congress every 90 days, is the first issued by the Trump administration. The deadline for the certification was midnight.
A statement from Tillerson's office raised concerns over what he called Iran's "role as state sponsor of terrorism," but said the State Department was certifying that "Iran is compliant through April 18th with its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action."
The review was ordered by President Donald Trump, Tillerson said in the letter. He called it an effort "to evaluate whether continuing to lift sanctions would be in U.S. national security interests."
Trump would work with Congress once the inter-agency review is complete, Tillerson said in the letter to Ryan released late Tuesday.
At the time the deal was reached, Trump called the Iran deal "terrible" and said it would "lead to nuclear holocaust."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has criticized the deal. He said in July of 2015 that "Iran is going to receive a sure path to nuclear weapons."
Former President Barack Obama has said the deal will make the world safer and more secure. He said in January of 2016 after the deal was implemented that "Iran will not get its hands on a nuclear bomb."
Obama said then that Iran's current uranium stockpile is 2 percent of what it was before the agreement, and the country has removed two-thirds of its centrifuges.
After the International Atomic Energy Agency verified in January of 2016 that Iran was in compliance with terms to scale back its nuclear program, some international sanctions were lifted.
The sanctions drastically reduced crude oil exports from Iran. Since the sanctions have been lifted, oil exports from Iran to India have surged, Reuters reported in February.
Iran was exempted from an OPEC deal to reduce output by 1.2 million barrels per day starting Jan. 1, a victory for Tehran which argued it needs to regain the market share it lost during sanctions.
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