WASHINGTON – The Trump administration certified on Monday night in its quarterly review that Iran was complying with the 2015 nuclear agreement while also warning about Tehran’s malign regional behavior. Speaking to reporters on a conference call on the condition of anonymity, a senior administration official explained that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson notified Congress that the conditions that are laid out in the INARA have been met based on information available to the United States.
During the campaign, President Donald Trump repeatedly castigated the nuclear deal signed by President Barack Obama and called for the agreement to be ripped up.
When asked twice if the current U.S. government policy was to pursue regime change in Iran, the senior official did not directly respond, but noted, “What we are focused on right now is trying to see a change in the behavior of the Iranian regime and stopping the Iranian malign behavior.”
At the same time, the administration official explained that the “Secretary of State and the President intend to emphasize that Iran remains one of the most dangerous threats to U.S. interests and regional stability and to highlight the range of malign activities by Iran that extend well beyond the nuclear realm.” Problematic behavior included: ballistic missile development, human rights violations, support of the murderous Assad regime in Syria, continued “hostility” against Israel, and support for terrorism across the Middle East. Therefore, “the President, Secretary of State and entire administration judge that Iran is unquestionably in default of the spirit of the JCPOA,” he added.
While certifying Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal, the Trump administration repeatedly attacked the Obama administration’s policy towards Iran… “In previous years, U.S. policy pertaining to Iran made the JCPOA the centerpiece of U.S. approach and that narrow approach led us to overlook some of the broader malign behavior that the Iranian regime conducted particularly in its region, “ the official noted. “Moving forward, the administration intends to employ a strategy that will address the totality of Iran’s behavior and not narrowly focus on the Iranian nuclear agreement.”
When asked about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s opposition to the U.S.-Russia-led ceasefire agreement in southern Syria, the official emphasized, “We take Israeli security concerns very seriously. The President has repeatedly said that they are one of the most significant considerations that we have in our regional policy and that will continue to be the case as we continue to work on the implementation of the de-escalation agreement in Southwest Syria.”
The administration official concluded, “We are putting on new sanctions to hold Iran accountable for its misbehavior.” Nonetheless, all of the additional sanctions would be outside of the JCPOA, he added.