US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson talks tough on Iran, accusing Tehran of exporting "terrorism and violence". The Islamic Republic is blamed for "destabilising" various Mideast nations and “intensifying multiple conflicts”. Trump orders review of the nuclear deal.
Tehran (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The war of words between Tehran and Washington has taken a sharp turn, raising again the fear level in the Middle East and around the world.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has in fact accused Iran of "alarming ongoing provocations" aimed at destabilising the Middle East and undermining America's interests in the region.
"An unchecked Iran has the potential to travel the same path as North Korea and to take the world along with it," Mr Tillerson noted.
Such statements follow President Donald Trump's order to review the Iran nuclear deal within 90 days to determine whether Iran is complying with it. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has already confirmed that Iran is living up to its end of the bargain.
Tillerson accused Iran of "alarming and ongoing provocations that export terror and violence, destabilising more than one country at a time”.
For the secretary of state, the Islamic Republic "is the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism and is responsible for intensifying multiple conflicts and undermining US interests in countries such as Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and Lebanon, and continuing to support attacks against Israel."
As part of a long list of charges, he criticised Iran's involvement in the Syrian conflict and its support for President Bashar al-Assad.
The secretary of state earlier acknowledged the Iranians had met the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal, but added that its "nuclear ambitions" remained "a grave risk to international peace and security".
For this reason, the US wants to undertake a broad review of its Iran policy to see what it might do, thus reflecting what President Trump said during the campaign when he described the landmark agreement as the "worst deal ever".
However, the US had maintained a series of sanctions because of Tehran's ballistic missile programme and armed support for Mideast Shia movements, including the freeze on Iranian assets in the US dating to the time of the shah of Iran.
Washington also banned the use of US dollars in banking transactions, scuttling contracts made after the nuclear agreement. Tehran responded by taking the US International Court of Justice, for misappropriating almost US$ 2 billion.
After Barack Obama's attempts to improve relations, Donald Trump's election has led to greater tensions. In fact, Washington stills considers the Islamic Republic a state that sponsors terrorism.
Meanwhile, there is growing bipartisan support in Congress for additional sanctions over Iran's ballistic missile programme, human rights violations and support for terrorist groups like Hezbollah, and the Houthi. However, the motion threatens the nuclear deal, and could further the diplomatic and military escalation.