Tillerson's removal could doom Iran nuclear deal

RTS1NE8O

RTS1NE8O

The Trump administration hit the ground running, re-imposing sanctions against Iran in its first weeks in office and also instating restrictions against those who are complicit with Tehran.

In early March, Iranian Armed Forces spokesman Masoud Jazayeri said that Tehran would enter into negotiations over the issue of the Iranian missile programs only after the U.S. and European states destroyed the nuclear weapons and long-range missiles they possess.

Iran will not accept any changes to its nuclear deal, a senior official has insisted, after the United States said it was seeking a "supplemental" accord with European powers.

Still, the issue is highly sensitive because the 2015 pact between Iran and six major powers ― Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States ― lifted global sanctions that crippled Iran's oil-based economy. Trump, who has long criticized the nuclear deal, it out on Tuesday as one of the main areas in which he had differences with Tillerson.

Trump recently chose to extend a waiver on nuclear sanctions that were imposed on Iran but made clear it would be the last time he will do so and ordered European allies and Congress to work with him to fix "the disastrous flaws" in the 2015 deal or Washington would withdraw.

Trump has threatened to pull out of the agreement unless European allies help "fix" it with a follow-up accord. "This country is not very dependable". It also forms the basis for most American sanctions against other countries.

A senior White House official said that Washington and the European Union have had positive discussions towards supporting a replacement deal beyond the Iran nuclear deal by May 12.

Pompeo has said Russian interference had no impact on the outcome of the 2016 race for the White House, which is not something US intelligence agencies say they are even qualified to assess.

"But the Iranians have on multiple occasions been capable of presenting a continued threat through covert efforts to develop their nuclear program along multiple dimensions, right?"

Trump's decision this week to replace Tillerson with Mike Pompeo as secretary of state has been widely seen as another bad omen for the agreement.

Iran was expected Friday to resist United States pressure to toughen the 2015 nuclear deal as time runs out to meet President Donald Trump´s ultimatum to fix the accord by May 12.

Hook had been tasked by Tillerson with getting the Europeans to agree to as many of Trump's demands as possible, with an eye toward selling the president on extending the sanctions waivers.

Reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have consistently shown Iran adhering to the deal in the two years since it took effect.

Pompeo may moderate some of his criticisms of the nuclear deal if he becomes secretary.

Some analysts believe that Pompeo may moderate some of his criticisms of the nuclear deal if he becomes secretary of state and slips into the role.

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