White House toughened up 'soft' Iran Deal compliance letter

Last week the State Department issued a brief letter saying that Iran was in compliance with its obligations under the Iran deal but also highlighting Iran’s continued misbehavior in the region. But it turns out that letter was much tougher on Iran than the original draft written by career officials at the State Department. From the Wall Street Journal:

Top White House officials said the initial letter submitted by the State Department was too soft because it ignored Tehran’s destabilizing activities in the Middle East and support for regional terrorist groups, these officials said.

President Donald Trump personally weighed in on the redrafting of the letter, which was sent to Congress on April 18, according to the officials. The final version highlighted Iran’s threatening regional behavior and called into question the U.S.’s long-term support for the nuclear accord.

Mr. Trump also told Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to follow up the next day with a strident public message that the new administration was planning a shift on policy toward Iran, putting the nuclear deal in play, said these officials.

The letter which was released said in part, “Iran remains a leading state sponsor of terror through many platforms and methods.” The letter also indicated that the Trump administration was reviewing the “suspension of sanctions” contained in the deal.

As for the statement by Secretary Tillerson that followed the letter, Allahpundit noted last week that it certainly didn’t sound as if the administration had decided to leave the deal in place. In fact, Tillerson compared Iran to North Korea’s rogue regime which the administration is currently pressuring to back away from its nuclear/missile program.

Back in February, during his brief tenure as National Security Adviser, Mike Flynn issued a stern warning to Iran that the season had changed. “The Obama administration failed to respond adequately to Tehran’s malign actions, including weapons transfers, support for terrorism and other violations of international norms,” Flynn said. He added, “As of today we are officially putting Iran on notice.” It certainly sounds as if Trump and Tillerson are sticking with that tougher approach and may even be preparing to put an end to the Iran deal through the review process.

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David Strom 2:31 PM on October 04, 2022
David Strom 1:31 PM on October 04, 2022