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Top Iranian and US officials exchanged heated words on Sunday over the controversial nuclear deal signed in 2015 in a bid to halt Iran’s nuclear program in return for sanction waivers. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson while conceding Iran’s “technical” compliance with the deal said, “Iran is involved in subversive activities in the Middle East inimical to American interests.”

The deal does not cover other geopolitical issues and events in the Middle East. Analysts worry that if the deal is targeted for non-nuclear issues, Iran will be pushed into going nuclear, for it has what it takes to produce the absolute weapon

“We have a lot of issues with Iran.They’re a yard long. The nuclear issue is one foot of that yard. We have two feet of other issues that we must deal with. And it has to do with Iran’s destabilizing activities,” Tillerson said in an interview on CBS.

The US and Iran are at loggerheads in Syria and Iraq while Iran’s support for Houthis in Yemen, strengthening ties with Hezbollah, Hamas and Qatar have added to the simmering rivalry. Tillerson had said last week that US policy for Iran is under review. His categorical enunciation that Iran’s regional policies will affect America’s approach toward the deal, spells trouble.

Read more: The Iran deal is living dangerously despite sanctions relief

Trump, despite his distaste for the deal, on Thursday, extended a set of waivers on sanctions as stipulated under the deal, which is officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The administration finds Iran in violation of the deal’s spirit. The preamble of the deal states: “Nations anticipate that full implementation of this JCPOA will positively contribute to regional and international peace and security.”

Ali Khamenei for his part warned the US against any wrong move regarding the nuclear deal on Sunday. Khamenei, a harsh critic of the deal, was addressing cadets of the police academy

Tillerson made this sentence as the base for his country’s continued apprehension of Iran. He censured Iran’s support for terrorism, echoing the views of President Trump. He asserted: “But since the nuclear deal has been concluded, what we have witnessed is that  Iran has stepped up its destabilizing activities in Yemen, it stepped up its destabilizing activities in Syria, and exports arms to Hezbollah and other terrorist groups, and it continues to conduct a very active ballistic missile program,” Tillerson said. “None of that, I believe, is consistent with that preamble commitment.”

Read more: Rouhani stresses on Iran and Pakistan to enhance cooperation

Opposition will grow 

Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei for his part warned the US against any wrong move regarding the nuclear deal on Sunday. Khamenei, a harsh critic of the deal, was addressing cadets of the police academy. He said: “Today, despite all the commitments and discussions in the negotiations, America’s attitude toward these negotiations and their outcome is completely unjust and amounts to bullying.”

Tillerson had said last week that US policy for Iran is under review. His categorical enunciation that  Iran’s regional policies will affect America’s approach toward the deal spells trouble

America’s continued criticism of the deal may make it tough for Rouhani to muster support for it. He cracked the deal during his first term amid censure from the Supreme Leader. Rouhani had twice indicated his desire to walk away from the deal, should the US mount more pressure. Before leaving for the General Assembly session, Rouhani implored upon the US to join those countries who support the deal. He said: “They can choose the right path and also enter the room where the food is served. We would not have a problem with that.”

Read more: Rouhani stresses on Iran and Pakistan to enhance cooperation

GVS talked to Kelsey Davenport, Director of Nonproliferation Policy at the Arms Control Association, who is an expert on Iran’s and DPRK’s nuclear program. She was of the opinion that Iran’s policies in the Middle East must be countered by means other than the deal.

She asserted:”The nuclear deal with Iran is meeting its intended purpose – verifiably blocking Tehran’s pathways to nuclear weapons. The Trump administration can and should look for ways to counter Iran’s malign activities, but not at the expense of the nuclear deal, which was never designed to address regional actions. Scuttling the agreement only risks putting the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran back on the table, whereas stabilizing and sustaining accord creates opportunities to engage with Iran on other issues that could benefit U.S. national security.”

On Monday, the European Leader Network issued a strong statement in support of the Iran deal and implored upon Trump not to abandon it. The statement was endorsed by 76 influential Europeans to include  George Robertson, former British Defence Secretary and former NATO Secretary General, Wolfgang Ischinger, Chair of the Munich Security Conference, Javier Solana, former EU High Representative and NATO Secretary General, and Igor Ivanov, former Russian Foreign Minister. They argued that jeopardizing the deal on frivolus grounds would be detrimental to US interests and regional stability.

The deal does not cover other geopolitical issues and events in the Middle East. Analysts worry that if the deal is targeted for non-nuclear issues, Iran will be pushed into going nuclear, for it has what it takes to produce the absolute weapon. With Khamenei also ratcheting up his tirade it is expected that now both countries will have the urge to abandon the deal.

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