Just one day after the State Department officially notified Congress of Iran complying with its commitments based on the nuclear deal, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's latest remarks caught Tehran by surprise.
The nuclear accord, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, has failed to quell Iran's capability and willpower to develop nuclear weapons, Tillerson emphasized, highlighting the fact that the mullahs' ambitions continue to pose grave threats for international peace and security.
Prior to Tillerson's latest lashing at Tehran, the Iranian regime was boasting the State Department's required 90-day report as a major breakthrough. This was a first for the Trump administration in stating anything with the potential of being weighed as positive.
The White House is currently involved in an extensive review of its sensitive Iran policy, which includes a major evaluation and possible overhaul of the JCPOA claimed to be aimed at curbing Iran's nuclear program, yet has failed to relieve all concerns, according to many critics.
As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump vowed to tear up the agreement, describing it as the "worst deal ever negotiated." Once in office, however, President Trump is taking his time weighing the advice of his cabinet on how to correctly trek ahead on this matter.
A major flaw of President Barack Obama's nuclear deal with Iran was its refusal to address the mullahs' lethal meddling across the Middle East, including their involvement in Syria, and flagrant human rights violations at home.
Tillerson's Wednesday remarks came as a staunch reminder to Iran of how serious the Trump administration takes its belligerence and "has no intention of passing the buck to a future administration on Iran."
Iran's "alarming and ongoing provocations that export terror and violence" were also fueled by the JCPOA as a windfall of billions poured into the Revolutionary Guards' coffers, exactly when the regime should have been placed under even more pressure to succumb to further international community demands.
Tillerson made it crystal clear how Washington is keeping a very watchful eye on Tehran's support for Syrian dictator Bashar Assad. This is especially true following the recent chemical attack in Idlib, Syria and Trump's highly calculated strike targeting the airfield near Homs, Syria where the warplanes carrying the chemical weapons lifted from.
This also comes at a time when the Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran issued a statement recently accusing the Syrian regime of launching Idlib chemical attack to support a campaign carried out by Iran's Revolutionary Guards in Hama Province in response to major advances made by the Free Syrian Army and other Syrian opposition forces.
Tillerson also raised the issue of Iran's continued support for the Houthis in Yemen, posing a major threat for U.S.-ally Saudi Arabia's southern borders. Rest assured this and further matters involving Iran's belligerence across the region were discussed in detail as U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis visited Riyadh.
Iran also understands how Tillerson's remarks went on to target its involvement in harassing U.S. Navy ships in international waters of the Persian Gulf, indicating such measures will no longer be tolerated. Tehran is now thinking twice about testing Trump's will in this regard, as he may allow his Navy captains to truly shoot their boats out of the water.
This major review of U.S. policy vis-à-vis Iran comes on the doorsteps of Iran's crucial May 19 presidential election. Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in a meeting with senior military commanders voiced serious concerns over a variety of crises hovering over the polls.
To this end, the Trump administration is on the right track in elevating the pressures necessary to make Iran understand its actions will no longer go condoned.
Amir Basiri (@amir_bas) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. He is an Iranian human rights activist.
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