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21 April 2017, 02:40 | Darnell Patrick
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The U.S.is already engaged in a hot stand-off with a North Korea that continues to flout global law by carrying out regular missile tests.
The diplomat said the intensified language is also a shot across the bow by the USA to Iran to warn: "Just because North Korea is misbehaving, it doesn't mean we aren't still watching you".
What is the USA doing about Iran?
"An unchecked Iran has the potential to travel the same path as North Korea, and take the world along with it", Mr Tillerson said.
Tillerson's statement went on to describe some of those provocations, including support for terrorism, interference in Iraq, backing the Assad regime in Syria, support for the Houthis in Yemen, harassment of USA navy ships in the Persian Gulf, and cyber-attacks against US interests and allies.
Iran helped to create and continues to fund Hezbollah, the Lebanese military and political organisation which the United States has listed as a terrorist organisation. But he said its "nuclear ambitions" remained "a grave risk to worldwide peace and security". "Buying off a power for a short period of time" is not a prudent way to deal with Iran.
Tillerson's letter follows an assessment by the International Atomic Energy Agency in February that Iran has so far complied with restrictions on its uranium enrichment and is not pursuing construction on its heavy-water research reactor.
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But President Trump has described the landmark agreement as the "worst deal ever".
How has the U.S. position changed?
Asked at a news conference in Washington whether he thought Iran was abiding by the nuclear agreement, President Donald Trump criticized the accord, saying it was a "terrible agreement" and Tehran was doing a "tremendous disservice" to the deal.
"The deal is working and there's absolutely no reason to pull away from it", Barbara Slavin, acting director at the Future of Iran Initiative at the Atlantic Council in Washington, said in an interview on Wednesday. -Iranian tensions, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis, who was in Saudi Arabia on a tour of the Middle East, on Wednesday accused Iran of sending missiles to rebel Houthi fighters in Yemen.
But Mr Obama kept those issues separate from the nuclear agreement, which would have been impossible to achieve without that narrow focus. And that's why our view is that we have to look at Iran in a very comprehensive way in terms of the threat it poses in all areas, of the region and the world, and the JCPOA is just one element of that.
What has this got to do with North Korea? "That allows him to tell his base that he's getting a better deal than [president George] Bush or [president Barack] Obama got, and yet reassure these institutions that it's really all being done with a nod and a wink, that Trump doesn't mean what he says", Brinkley said.
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