Trump says Iran complying with nuclear deal but remains dangerous threat

  • As North Korea Warns Trump Attack Would End U.S. ‘Empire’

President Donald Trump’s administration on Monday declared that Iran was complying with its nuclear agreement with world powers, but warned that Tehran was in default of the spirit of the accord and that Washington would look for ways to strengthen it.

It was the second time Trump certified Iranian compliance with the agreement since he took office in January, despite criticizing it during the 2016 campaign as “the worst deal ever.”

Trump administration officials, briefing reporters on Monday on the decision, said new economic sanctions against Iran were being prepared over its ballistic missile program and for contributing to regional tensions.

Under U.S. law, the State Department must notify Congress every 90 days of Iran’s compliance with the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Trump had faced a congressionally mandated deadline of Monday to decide.

A senior administration official said Iran was judged in compliance of the 2015 nuclear deal but that Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson believed Iran “remains one of the most dangerous threats to U.S. interests and to regional stability.”

The official ticked off a list of accusations about Iranian behavior in the region, including ballistic missile development and proliferation, support for terrorism and militancy, complicity in atrocities committed in Syria and threats to Gulf waterways.

“The president and the secretary of state judge that these Iranian activities severely undermine the intent of the JCPOA, which was to contribute to regional and international peace and security. As a result, the president, the secretary of state and the entire administration judge that Iran is unquestionably in default of the spirit of the JCPOA,” the official said.

In the meantime, North Korea has again vowed to defend itself against what it considers an aggressive U.S. presence in the region. And this time it is calling out a key member of President Donald Trump’s administration, Defense Secretary James Mattis.

Official outlet Rodong Sinmun fired back Monday at remarks made earlier this month by Mattis, in which he suggested the U.S. take greater action against North Korea’s recent military buildup. “Mattis is the peerless bellicose element well known to be a ‘war-maniac’ and ‘rabid dog’ in the overseas aggression wars. It is ridiculous, indeed, that such warmonger talked about ‘non-military counteraction’ and ‘diplomatic solution,'” the newspaper wrote, a likely reference to Mattis’ “mad dog” nickname.

That same day, a separate Rodong Sinmun article called a U.S. strike against North Korea “a very foolish act of precipitating self-ruin” that would effectively put an end to “the empire of America.” The words came in response to the Trump’s White House’s recent announcement that Washington’s “era of strategic patience” with North Korea had concluded.

Both Washington and Pyongyang have shot heated statements toward one another since the latter managed to test-fire its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) earlier this month. In the past few days, North Korea’s government-controlled media has released a series of charged commentaries attacking political and defense officials in the U.S. as well as in regional allies Japan and South Korea, among other foes of Kim Jong Un’s government.

While the U.S. enjoys a significant tactical advantage over North Korea, it’s been projected that a conflict between the two nations could kill at least one million people, even without the use of nuclear weapons.

North Korea argues its nuclear weapons and recently-developed ICBMs are necessary to ensure its survival against hostile foreign powers such as the U.S., which, along with a number of other countries and organizations, accuses Kim’s government of perpetrating vast human rights abuses. North Korea denies this and charges the U.S. with pursuing an imperialistic foreign policy around the globe.