U.S. Secretary of State: Iran 'Technically Complying' With Nuke Deal, but Remains Destabilizing Force

Tillerson's comments come after meeting with all parties to the deal, including Iran. Trump has said he has made a decision but will not disclose further

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks at a press briefing at the Hilton Midtown hotel during the United Nations General Assembly on September 20, 2017 in New York.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks at a press briefing at the Hilton Midtown hotel during the United Nations General Assembly on September 20, 2017 in New York. Evan Vucci/AP

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday that Iran is in "technical compliance" with the 2015 nuclear deal, but is failing to live up to the expectation that the deal would remove a "serious threat" to the region.

President Donald Trump has determined how he wants to approach the Iran nuclear deal, but Tillerson told reporters that Trump has not informed him or others in the administration about his decision.

According to Tillerson, Trump even refused to share his decision with British Prime Minister Theresa May when she asked about it.

Trump teases on Iran deal decision: "I've decided" Haaretz/Reuters

The top U.S. diplomat said that while Iran might be meeting its obligations to the letter of the deal, it is violating its spirit. He added that no one disagreed Iran is technically complying, but that currently there is an ongoing political discussion about whether to remain in the deal.

"One can almost set the countdown clock to Iran resuming its nuclear activities," he warned.

Tillerson spoke to reporters after a meeting of the parties to the nuclear deal on Wednesday evening, which included Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. It was the first time that Tillerson and Zarif had met since Trump took office on January 20. According to the secretary of state, his first meeting with the Iranians was "very matter of fact."

During his speech a day earlier at the UN, Trump called the deal "an embarrassment" to the United States.

Seven senior Democratic senators sent a letter Wednesday to the Trump administration seeking clarifications regarding the its position on the nuclear deal.

The senators asked why the administration was hinting at a possible declaration that Iran had breach the terms of the deal, potentially endangering it, if Trump had certified Iran's compliance with the agreement twice in the past.