U.S. Threatens Iran: Plans To “Review Policy” And Deal With Them Before New Administration Comes To Power

http://www.renegadetribune.com/u-s-threatens-iran-plans-review-policy-deal-new-administration-comes-power/
By Brandon Turbeville

After launching the disastrous missile strikes against Syrian military forces that resulted in the killing of Syrian soldiers, civilians, and children as well as sending ships toward North Korea in a flagrant act of aggression and dropping the largest known non-nuclear bomb on Afghanistan, the Trump administration is now taking aim at Iran.

Sounding much like it did after its bizarre and unprovoked “putting Iran on notice” speech made by former Trump administration official Michael Flynn, the United States is now “reviewing its policy” on Iran and warning the world of the dangers of a nuclear Iran.

Ironically, the United States is warning of an Iran terrorizing the world with its bombs, funding “militias” across the world, and expanding its influence in the region by force as well as unprovoked aggression against specific countries. If there were a field of psychology for geopolitics, these statements would be classified as a clear example of projection if ever there was one.

“Whether it be assassination attempts, support of weapons of mass destruction, deploying destabilizing militias, Iran spends its treasure and time disrupting peace,” Tillerson said. “An unchecked Iran has the potential to travel the same path as North Korea ‒ and take the world along with it.”

“Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, and is responsible for intensifying multiple conflicts and undermining US interests in countries such as Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon, and continuing to support attacks against Israel.”

“An unchecked Iran has the potential to travel the same path as North Korea ‒ and take the world along with it,” he added.

Tillerson also stated that Iran supports the “brutal Assad regime” and that it supports the Houthis in Yemen, as well as accusing Iran of “undermining security in Iraq for years” by virtue of its support for Quds forces fighting there. Tillerson also accused Iran of maintaining “a long-standing hostility towards Israel, providing weapons, training and funding to Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist organizations.”

“A comprehensive Iran policy requires that we address all of the threats posed by Iran, and it is clear there are many,” he said.

Tillerson then turned to the Iran nuclear deal which has been the target of both the Trump administration and traditional Republicans since day one, claiming that it “fails to achieve the objective of a non-nuclear Iran ‒ it only delays their goal of becoming a nuclear state. This deal represents the same failed approach of the past that brought us to the current imminent threat that we face from North Korea.”

Tillerson added that “The Trump administration has no intention of passing the buck to a future administration on Iran. The evidence is clear: Iran’s provocative actions threaten the United States, the region and the world.” In addition, he stated that the United States will “meet the challenges Iran poses with clarity and conviction” after the policy review is over.

Tillerson echoed statements uttered by Defense Secretary James Mattis earlier in the week, who accused Iran of trying destabilize the Middle East. “Everywhere you look if there is trouble in the region, you find Iran. We will have to overcome Iran’s efforts to destabilize yet another country and create another militia in their image of Lebanese Hezbollah but the bottom line is, we are on the right path for it.” Mattis’ statement came after meeting with senior Saudi officials in Riyadh.

The Path To Persia

The plan for a Western or a Western/Israeli attack on Iran, along with the theatre of alleged US-Israeli tensions leading up to a strike and outright war, has been in the works for some time. For instance, in 2009, the Brookings Institution, a major banking, corporate, and military-industrial firm, released a report entitled “Which Path To Persia? Options For A New American Strategy For Iran,” in which the authors mapped out a plan which leaves no doubt as to the ultimate desire from the Western financier, corporate, and governing classes.

The plan involves the description of a number of ways the Western oligarchy would be able to destroy Iran including outright military invasion and occupation. However, the report attempts to outline a number of methods that might possibly be implemented before direct military invasion would be necessary. The plan included attempting to foment destabilization inside Iran via the color revolution apparatus, violent unrest, proxy terrorism, and “limited airstrikes” conducted by the US, Israel or both.

Interestingly enough, the report states that any action taken against Iran must be done after the idea that Iran has rejected a fair and generous offer by the West has been disseminated throughout the general public. The report reads,

…any military operation against Iran will likely be very unpopular around the world and require the proper international context— both to ensure the logistical support the operation would require and to minimize the blowback from it. The best way to minimize international opprobrium and maximize support (however, grudging or covert) is to strike only when there is a widespread conviction that the Iranians were given but then rejected a superb offer—one so good that only a regime determined to acquire nuclear weapons and acquire them for the wrong reasons would turn it down. Under those circumstances, the United States (or Israel) could portray its operations as taken in sorrow, not anger, and at least some in the international community would conclude that the Iranians “brought it on themselves” by refusing a very good deal.

Ironically, it is admitted by the authors of the report that the Iranians are not governed by lunatics intent on nuking the world but by entirely rational players. Still, they move forward with a number of options for attacking Iran. It should thus be obvious to anyone reading this report that the US, NATO, and Israel are uninterested in peace with Iran and are entirely focused on war and Iranian destruction.

“The so-called “Iran deal,” introduced during the administration of US President Barack Obama, represents precisely this “superb offer,” with Flynn’s accusations serving as the “turn down” ahead of the “sorrowful” war and attempted regime change the US had always planned to target Tehran with,” writes Tony Cartalucci of Land Destroyer Report.

The report continues to discuss the citations that could be used for an attack on Iran, clearly stating its intentions to create a plan to goad a non-threatening nation into war. It states,

The truth is that these all would be challenging cases to make. For that reason, it would be far more preferable if the United States could cite an Iranian provocation as justification for the airstrikes before launching them. Clearly, the more outrageous, the more deadly, and the more unprovoked the Iranian action, the better off the United States would be. Of course, it would be very difficult for the United States to goad Iran into such a provocation without the rest of the world recognizing this game, which would then undermine it. (One method that would have some possibility of success would be to ratchet up covert regime change efforts in the hope that Tehran would retaliate overtly, or even semi-overtly, which could then be portrayed as an unprovoked act of Iranian aggression.)

The question of the Israeli role in the possible attack against Iran is also mentioned by Brookings. In fact, in the chapter entitled, “Allowing or Encouraging An Israeli Military Strike,” Brookings not only outlines a potential strategy but essentially admits that the US-Israeli tension being hyped in the Western media is nothing more than a farce. It says,

..the most salient advantage this option has over that of an American air campaign is the possibility that Israel alone would be blamed for the attack. If this proves true, then the United States might not have to deal with Iranian retaliation or the diplomatic backlash that would accompany an American military operation against Iran. It could allow Washington to have its cake (delay Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon) and eat it, too (avoid undermining many other U.S. regional diplomatic initiatives).

Why Iran?

There are a number of reasons why the United States and the NATO imperial army would like to see Iran destroyed over the coming years. Geopolitical reasons are, of course, front and center.

On one level, the Israeli connection stands as one obvious reason the United States has maintained an anti-Iran posture for nearly two decades. Iran not only stands as a regional opponent to the whims and aims of the Israeli settler state, but it also bankrolls and supports one of the greatest forces of opposition to Israel directly due to its close proximity and the militia’s military prowess. Indeed, Israel was humiliated by Hezbollah in front of the world in 2006. Thus, if Iran is destroyed, Hezbollah goes with it and two of Israel’s biggest and most effective opponents disappear from the game board.

The United States also sees Iran as an opponent due to Iran’s resistance to the Anglo-American insistence on global hegemony of its “Western” system of financial and corporate overseers in a plantation owned by a world oligarchy. Iran stands in opposition to the Western system because it refuses to engage in a system private central banking as well as corporate and private financier domination of its society and culture. Maintaining its own national bank has long been a source of irritation for Wall Street and City of London vampires eager to sink their fangs into the blood supply of every nation on earth. In addition, Iran has recently announced that it would be dropping the U.S. dollar for some other currency or basket of currencies beginning March 21, a sure sign that a Western war of aggression is most definitely on the horizon.

Iran also remains a close Russian ally and the last domino that needs to fall before the great Anglo-American army can march forward directly into Russia and break the largest country in the world into “manageable” parts.[1] Once Iran is destroyed, Russia will be largely isolated and left to face the NATO alliance which has been slowly surrounding Russia over the last two decades.

Conclusion

The Trump Administration’s false labeling of Iran as the biggest sponsor of terrorism, ignoring the fact that Iran is one of the most important players in the fight against ISIS and Sunni Islamic extremism in the Middle East as well as the fact that American ally Saudi Arabia is perhaps the biggest purveyor of terrorism in the world, tells everyone what we need to know going forward – the plan to destroy Iran is marching forward without a hitch in another example of seamless transition.

Of course, Iran is opposing America’s policies in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon. It should. The United States’ policy is that of funding, directing, and manipulating terrorists for the purpose of destroying sovereign countries, backing a brutal racist Israeli regime that continually attacks its neighbors, and supporting an equally brutal Saudi dictatorship intentionally slaughtering the Yemeni people. If this is what Iran is opposing, the world owes it a debt of gratitude.


[1] Brzezinski, Zbigniew. The Grand Chessboard. Basic Books. 1st Edition. 1998.

This article originally appeared on Activist Post.

Image Credit: Cato.org

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Nikki Haley (Feminist, Zionist, Freemason) urges UN to shift its criticism from Israel to Iran

http://www.timesofisrael.com/nikki-haley-urges-un-to-shift-its-criticism-from-israel-to-iran/

 

UNITED NATIONS — It’s high time the United Nations Security Council set its sights on Iran, rather than Israel, United States Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said Thursday during the Security Council’s monthly meeting on “the Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.”

“Every month the Security Council convenes a meeting on the Middle East. We have lots of meetings on specific countries and conflicts in this region but this debate is our opportunity to talk about the Middle East as a whole. Regrettably, these monthly meetings routinely turn into Israel-bashing sessions. That’s the way the Security Council has operated for years. It’s a formula that is absurdly biased against one country. It’s a formula that is painfully narrow in its description of the conflicts in the region,” said Haley, who is this month’s president of the Security Council.

In her remarks before the 15-member council, Haley condemned Iran, which she said is responsible for regional tumult, from meddling in Yemen and Syria, to its support of Hezbollah.

“Iran is using Hezbollah to expand its regional aspirations. That is a threat that should be dominating our discussions at the Security Council,” she said.

Since Haley assumed her post in January with the promise that there “is a new sheriff in town,” she has repeatedly chastised the UN for what she says is its Israel obsession and anti-Israel bias.

United Nations Security Council meeting, April 20, 2017. (UN/Rick Bajornas)

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon, who also addressed the meeting, welcomed Haley’s efforts to redirect the council’s attention. Like Haley, Danon spoke out against what he said was increased Iranian aggression in the region.

“Where there is terror, where there is death, there is Iran. Teheran is an accomplice in the atrocities taking place every single day in Syria. The Iranian proxy Hezbollah places its weapons in homes, mosques and hospitals in Lebanon, and in Gaza, Hamas has spent millions of Iranian dollars on rockets, guns and digging terror tunnels,” he said.

Moreover, Danon told the council, Iran not only threatens the region through proxies, it threatens the region directly with its continued ballistic missile tests, “which are in direct defiance this Council…The Iranians have not hidden their intentions. Just two days ago they wrote on one of their missiles: ‘Death to Israel.’”

Israel ambassador Danny Danon speaks at the United Nations Security Council meeting, April 20, 2017. (UN Photo / Rick Bajornas)

Perhaps in a sign that Haley’s suggestion is being heeded, Nickolay Mladenov, the UN’s special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, expanded the scope of his remarks beyond the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to include Syria, the millions of displaced, Hezbollah and the Islamic State group.

“Today a perfect storm has engulfed the Middle East and continues to threaten international peace and security. Millions have been displaced in the biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War. In many countries, societies have fractured along ethnic or religious lines. Non-state actors have taken control of territory, and terror attacks have spread indiscriminately striking civilians of all origin and confession,” Mladenov said.

The Palestinian Permanent Observer to the UN Riyad Mansour said “the Palestinian-Israel conflict is about the denial of a people’s unalienable right to freedom. It is not a conflict arising out of incitement for terror.”

The Ukrainian ambassador, Volodymyr Yelchenko, made brief remarks about the Palestinians and Israel, repeating Haley’s assertion that peace would only be achieved through direct negotiations, before going on to discuss IS and Syria.

Haley’s effort to redirect the council’s gaze faces the opposition of many council members — including France, Russia and Sweden — which ignored her rebuke and spent the majority of their floor time speaking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Additionally, any resolution against Iran would likely not pass as Russia, which is closely aligned with Iran, is one of five permanent members that hold veto power in the Security Council.

Trump raps Iran for violating ‘spirit’ of nuclear deal

WASHINGTON (AP) — Iran is failing to fulfill the “spirit” of its nuclear deal with world powers, President Donald Trump declared Thursday, setting an ominous tone for his forthcoming decision about whether to pull the US out of the landmark agreement.

As he often had during the president campaign, Trump ripped into the deal struck by Iran, the US and other world powers in 2015 and said “it shouldn’t have been signed.” Yet he pointedly stopped short of telegraphing whether or not the US would stay in.

“They are not living up to the spirit of the agreement, I can tell you that,” Trump said of the Iranians, though he did not mention any specific violations. Earlier this week, the administration certified to Congress than Iran was complying — at least technically — with the terms of the deal, clearing the way for Iran to continue enjoying sanctions relief in the near term.

In a news conference alongside Italian Premier Paolo Gentiloni, Trump also said:

— The US is committed to a strong Europe, though he didn’t say directly whether he prefers that the European Union stay intact.

— He sees no military role for the US in stabilizing Libya.

— It’s possible he may soon be able to strike deals with Congress on both health care and funding legislation to head off a government shutdown.

On Iran, Trump and his top officials have been walking a narrow line as they seek to show an aggressive stance. While disparaging the nuclear deal and accusing Iran of fomenting violence and terrorism throughout the Middle East, Trump has avoided committing to abandoning the agreement, a move that would be staunchly opposed by US businesses and European allies.

President Donald Trump meets with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Thursday, April 20, 2017. (AP/Susan Walsh)

Yet the president seems keenly aware that his indecisiveness about the deal’s future is a step back from his campaign declaration that as president he would rip it up or renegotiate.

He said of Iran, “I think they are doing a tremendous disservice to an agreement that was signed.”

Under the deal, brokered during the Obama administration, Iran agreed to roll back key aspects of its nuclear program in exchange for relief from certain economic sanctions. Critics have said it’s unfathomable that the US would grant sanctions relief to Tehran even as it continues testing ballistic missiles, violating human rights and supporting extremist groups elsewhere in the Middle East.

By design, the nuclear deal does not address those Western grievances, meaning Tehran can be in compliance even as it violates UN resolutions and remains a US-designated state sponsor of terrorism. The US has continued to punish Tehran for those activities with non-nuclear sanctions that also fall outside the purview of the deal.

Trump hasn’t given a timeline for when his administration’s review of Iran policy — including whether to stick with the deal — will be complete. But the US must decide next month whether to renew a waiver so that Iran can continue receiving sanctions relief.

The president joined Italian Premier Gentiloni for a White House news conference at a tense time for Europe, which was reeling anew from a deadly attack in Paris on Thursday ahead of a pivotal presidential vote in France on Sunday. The French election is being seen as a bellwether for whether the move toward nationalism and separation from the European Union, displayed by Britain’s move to leave the EU, will continue spreading to other European countries.

Trump didn’t specifically weigh in on the French election, nor would he say outright whether he supported countries staying in the EU. But he said a strong Europe is “very, very important” to the United States.

“We will help it be strong, and it’s very much to everybody’s advantage,” Trump said.

Weeks after he said he was moving on after a failed attempt in Congress to replace the Affordable Care Act, Trump said “there’s no give-up” and predicted a proposed GOP overhaul of Obama’s health care law was gaining popularity.

And, with a funding deadline looming to keep the government running, Trump said it was possible Congress would manage to accomplish it all next week or “shortly thereafter.”

“I think we’ll get both,” he said.

Grappling with other national security concerns, Trump said he did not see a role for the US in Libya, adding that the US “has right now enough roles.” Trump has criticized the Obama administration for a 2011 military intervention that he says created a power vacuum that led Libya to slip into chaos.

Trump also voiced optimism that the US had successfully enlisted China to try to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program.

“We don’t know whether or not they’re able to do that, but I have absolute confidence that he will be trying very, very hard,” Trump said, referring to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Trump’s first 100 days: Trump aides (White Freemasons) turn up the heat on Iran

Here’s where things stand heading into Day 90 of the Trump administration:

The Trump administration is not shy about taking on global adversaries with tough rhetoric.

This week, it turned some of its attention toward Iran.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson slammed Iran on Wednesday as a state sponsor of terrorism responsible for “alarming, ongoing provocations” across the Middle East. (Think: threats against Israel, support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and harassment of U.S. naval vessels in the Persian Gulf.) In formal remarks to reporters, Tillerson suggested the United States was considering whether to punish the Islamic republic by reimposing sanctions that were lifted under the 2015 nuclear agreement.

As you might remember, President Trump is no fan of that nuclear agreement. On the 2016 campaign trail, he repeatedly criticized it as “the worst deal ever negotiated.” But it’s unclear whether his administration is prepared to violate its terms by reimposing sanctions. That could risk retaliation from Iran and lead it to resume development of its nuclear program.

Tillerson wasn’t the only Trump administration official targeting Iran for criticism on Wednesday.

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis slammed Iran as a destabilizing influence, particularly in Yemen, during a visit to Saudi Arabia. “Everywhere you look, if there’s trouble in the region, you find Iran,” Mattis told reporters.

This week, the Trump administration said it will undertake a comprehensive, 90-day review to judge whether lifting sanctions on Iran serves U.S. interests. So expect to hear more about this topic in the coming months.

In the meantime, amid all the criticism, here’s a development worth noting: Iran has met all of its commitments under the nuclear deal so far, the administration officially told Congress this week.

EXXON ASKS TO RESUME PROJECT WITH RUSSIAN PARTNER

Speaking of Tillerson, here’s a situation that could get interesting.

ExxonMobil, where Tillerson served as chairman and chief executive before joining the Trump administration, is seeking permission from the U.S. government to resume oil drilling around the Black Sea in partnership with Rosneft, Russia’s state-owned oil company.

The project was blocked in 2014 when the United States imposed sanctions on Russia to punish it for annexing Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. ExxonMobil has estimated the sanctions caused it to lose up to $1 billion before taxes from ventures with Rosneft, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the company’s request.

The news comes against the backdrop of investigations into Trump’s ties to Russia and Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election.

THE CASE OF THE MISSING AIRCRAFT CARRIER, PART TWO

Yesterday, we wrote about the “nebulous — if not deliberately misleading” comments from Trump administration officials about the location of the USS Carl Vinson.

In case you missed it, here’s a quick recap.

Last week, amid rising tensions with North Korea, U.S. officials suggested an aircraft carrier was headed toward the Korean Peninsula, ready to counter overt aggression from Pyongyang.

It turns out that carrier, the USS Carl Vinson, was thousands of miles away in the Indian Ocean at the time.

Government officials let the false narrative spread for a week, with some experts wondering, as our colleagues wrote, whether the Trump administration was “using deceptive means to send a message” to North Korea.

On Wednesday, some of those officials sought to defend the administration’s statements, while others struggled to explain why the government never corrected news reports that falsely stated the location of the carrier.

“What part is misleading? I’m trying to figure that out,” said White House press secretary Sean Spicer. “We were asked a question about what signal it sent. We answered the question on what signal it sent. I’m not the one who commented on timing.”

Tillerson: Iran’s nuclear quest a ‘grave risk’ to global security

WASHINGTON — US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned against an “unchecked Iran” Wednesday, which he said could “follow the same path as North Korea” in pursuing nuclear weapons and putting global security at risk.

“Iran’s nuclear ambitions are a grave risk to international peace and security,” Tillerson said in brief remarks from the State Department Treaty Room about the administration’s interagency review of the Iran nuclear deal forged by former US president Barack Obama and world powers in July 2015.

The US secretary also branded the Iran nuclear deal a failure, arguing the accord had just been a way of “buying off” the regime and would only delay its development of a nuclear weapon that could threaten its region and the world.

Tillerson said the deal “fails to achieve the objective of a non-nuclear Iran” and was a product of “the same failed approach of the past that brought us to the current imminent threat we face from North Korea.”

Illustrative: Iran's heavy water nuclear facilities near the central city of Arak. (CC-BY-SA 3.0/Wikimedia/Nanking2012)

Earlier this week, Tillerson wrote a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan confirming Tehran was abiding by the landmark pact, while adding that the United States will conduct a “comprehensive review” of its policy toward Iran and the nuclear agreement.

US President Donald Trump made contradictory promises during the campaign as to what his policy would be toward Iran, but more than once vowed to dismantle the accord, if elected.

Despite Tillerson’s confirmation that Tehran is complying with the the deal, he said the current regime could sow disorder both in the region and worldwide.

“An unchecked Iran has the potential to follow the same path as North Korea and take the world along with it,” he said. “The United States is keen to avoid a second piece of evidence that strategic patience is a failed approach.”

“Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism and is responsible for intensifying multiple conflicts and undermining US interests in countries such as Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon, and continuing to support attacks against Israel,” he added. “Iran maintains a longstanding hostility towards Israel, providing weapons, training, and funding to Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist organizations.

The nation’s top diplomat also underlined the Islamic Republic’s human rights violations.

“Iran continues to have one of the world’s worst human rights records,” he said. “Political opponents are regularly jailed or executed, reaching the agonizing low point of executing juveniles or other individuals whose punishment is not proportionate to their crime.”

The nuclear deal was sealed in Vienna in July 2015 after 18 months of negotiations led by former Secretary of State John Kerry and diplomats from the other four permanent members of the UN Security Council — Britain, China, France and Russia — and Germany. Under its terms, Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program, long suspected of being aimed at developing atomic weapons, in return for billions of dollars in sanctions relief.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani gives a press conference in Tehran on Jaunary 17, 2017, to mark the first anniversary of the implementation of the nuclear deal. (AFP/Atta Kenare)

Opponents of the deal, including Israel, objected, saying it only delayed Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and did not allow for the kind of inspections of its atomic sites that would guarantee it was not cheating.

Obama, Kerry and others who negotiated the deal strenuously defended its terms and said the agreement made Israel, the Middle East and the world a safer place.

Since taking office, Trump’s administration has adopted a hawkish and confrontational stance with Tehran.

In February, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on a number of entities connected to Iran’s ballistic missile program and warned the Islamic Republic it had been “put on notice” and that it was “playing with fire” afer it test-firing a medium range missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, which the White House contends violated a UN Security Council resolution proscribing missiles that could carry a nuclear device.

Trump administration says Iran complying with nuclear deal

The Trump administration notified Congress on Tuesday that Iran was complying with the 2015 nuclear deal negotiated by former President Barack Obama, and that it has extended the sanctions relief given to the Islamic Republic in exchange for curbs on its atomic program.

However, in a letter to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan sent late Tuesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the administration has undertaken a full review of the agreement to evaluate whether continued sanctions relief is in the national interest. Tillerson noted that Iran remains a leading state sponsor of terrorism and that President Donald Trump had ordered the review with that in mind.

“Iran remains a leading state sponsor of terror, through many platforms and methods. President Donald J. Trump has directed a National Security Council-led interagency review of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that will evaluate whether suspension of sanctions related to Iran pursuant to the JCPOA is vital to the national security interests of the United States,” read the letter by Tillerson.

The certification of Iran’s compliance, which must be sent to Congress every 90 days, is the first issued by the Trump administration.

Trump has been an outspoken critic of the controversial agreement, calling it one of the “the worst deal I’ve ever seen negotiated,” and saying that Iran “lost respect [for the US] because they didn’t think anyone would be stupid as to make a deal like that.” He also argued that Iran was “emboldened” by the agreement to act confrontationally on the world stage.

During his presidential campaign, Trump promised both to “dismantle the disastrous deal” and to “force the Iranians back to the bargaining table to make a much better deal.”

Since taking office, his administration has adopted a hawkish and confrontational stance with Tehran.

In February, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on a number of entities connected to Iran’s ballistic missile program and warned the Islamic Republic it had been “put on notice” and that it was “playing with fire” afer it test-firing a medium range missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, which the White House contends violated a UN Security Council resolution proscribing missiles that could carry a nuclear device.

Tuesday’s determination suggested that while Trump agreed with findings by the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, that Iran is keeping to its end of the bargain, he is looking for another way to ratchet up pressure on Tehran.

Despite the sanctions relief, Iran remains on the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism for its support of anti-Israel groups and is still subject to non-nuclear sanctions, including for human rights abuses and for its backing of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government.

The nuclear deal was sealed in Vienna in July 2015 after 18 months of negotiations led by former Secretary of State John Kerry and diplomats from the other four permanent members of the UN Security Council — Britain, China, France and Russia — and Germany. Under its terms, Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program, long suspected of being aimed at developing atomic weapons, in return for billions of dollars in sanctions relief.

Opponents of the deal, including Israel, objected, saying it only delayed Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and did not allow for the kind of inspections of its atomic sites that would guarantee it was not cheating. Obama, Kerry and others who negotiated the deal strenuously defended its terms and said the agreement made Israel, the Middle East and the world a safer place.

In a phone call last month between Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the two leaders discussed the “dangers emanating from Iran and Iranian aggression in the region and the need to work together to deal with these threats,” according to a readout from the Prime Minister’s Office.

Netanyahu said last month that “Iran is the greatest generator of terrorism in the world in the world and we need to to fight this terror because it is just one arm of Iranian aggression, which also seeks nuclear weapons and advances its ballistic missiles program.”

Rouhani: Iran does not need ‘permission to build missiles’

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday that Iran does not need “permission to build missiles,” in an apparent response to recent sanctions by the United States on the Islamic Republic’s ballistic missile program.

“Iran will ask no soul’s permission to build missiles,” the state-run Press TV quoted him as saying.

Speaking at a defense ministry event to show off new Iranian-made weapons, Rouhani claimed that the country’s development of ballistic missiles and other advanced arms is strictly for defensive purposes.

“We have repeatedly declared that strengthening the defensive prowess of Iran’s Armed Forces is only aimed at defending the country and will never be used against another country,” he said.

In this Sept. 21, 2016 file photo, an Emad long-range ballistic surface-to-surface missile is displayed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard during a military parade, in front of the shrine of late revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini, just outside Tehran, Iran. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)

Despite Rouhani’s claim that Iran’s development of weapons is for strictly peaceful purposes, Israel and the US have accused the Islamic Republic with arming a number of terror groups and Shiite militias in the region engaged in offense operations, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, the Houthis in Yemen and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

In his remarks Saturday, Rouhani also said that Iran’s development of ballistic missiles was necessary to prevent “the crimes and acts of aggression” of the US and other regional powers.

“Even if our region were completely secure and major powers were not present there, a country still needs deterrent power and the region requires balance,” he said.

He also warned than any attempt to upset the regional balance of power would lead to problems, which he said has long been undermined by the “powers’ intervention and the cancerous tumor of Israel,” Press TV reported.

US President Donald Trump boards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, April 13, 2017. (AFP Photo/Jim Watson)

After Iran test-fired a ballistic missile in January, the US imposed sanctions on a number of entities involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program, and US President Donald Trump warned the Islamic Republic it had been “put on notice.”

Although Iran maintains that the testing of ballistic missiles is not banned by the 2015 nuclear deal designed to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, the US said that the sanctions were imposed for Iran’s violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2331, which calls upon Iran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”

Since January’s test-firing of a ballistic missile, Iran has carried out a number of other tests of ballistic, cruise and submarine-based missiles, while in March state television said Iran successfully tested the S-300 missile defense system delivered to it by Russia following the 2015 nuclear deal after years of delay.

In addition to disagreements over Iran’s missile program, tensions between the two countries were further ratcheted up after the US struck an airfield with 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles belonging to the Syrian regime — of which Iran has lang been a key backer — in response to a chemical weapons strike carried out by the Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces earlier this month, with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei labeling the US strike as a “strategic mistake.”

Ahmadinejad says Trump can’t hurt ‘powerful’ Iran

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Saturday he does not view recent US missile strikes on ally Syria as a message for Iran, which he called a “powerful country” that the US cannot harm.

The controversial former president made the remarks to The Associated Press on Saturday, three days after he stunned Iranians by registering to run for president again.

His surprise candidacy must still be approved by authorities but has already upended a race that was widely expected to be won by incumbent moderate Hassan Rouhani.

US President Donald Trump’s administration earlier this year announced it was putting Iran “on notice” in part over its ballistic missile tests, and last week pounded a Syrian air base with cruise missiles in response to a chemical weapons attack.

Iran is the main regional backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad and is involved militarily on the ground in that country’s civil war.

Hezbollah leader sheik Hassan Nasrallah, left, speaks with Syrian President Bashar Assad, center, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, right, upon their arrival for a dinner in Damascus, Syria, February 25, 2010 (photo credit: AP/SANA)

Ahmadinejad dismissed suggestions that the US strike on Syria might also be a warning for his country.

“I do not think it has a message for Iran. Iran is a powerful country and people like Mr. Trump or the United States administration cannot hurt Iran,” he said.

Ahmadinejad also voiced reluctant support for Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with the US and other world powers, which saw Iran accept curbs on its nuclear program in exchange for relief from crippling international sanctions.

Iran has managed to sign a series of multibillion-dollar civilian aircraft deals since sanctions were lifted, but many ordinary Iranians are still waiting on hoped-for economic benefits of the nuclear agreement to trickle down.

“The nuclear deal is a legal document and a pact. In the Islamic Republic, the officials and the supreme leader have approved of it and declared their commitment to it,” Ahmadinejad said.

“The problem about the nuclear deal is how they advertised it. Both parties have represented it in such a way as if it can solve all the issues of human history. It was incorrect. It later turned out to be untrue,” he continued.

Ahmadinejad’s candidacy has left many inside Iran scratching their heads.

Former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (R) and his former vice president, Hamid Baghaie, lock hands during a press conference in the capital Tehran on April 5, 2017. (AFP Photo/Atta Kenare)

He registered to run on the same day as did his former vice president Hamid Baghaei, saying at the time his decision was meant to support his political ally.

His candidacy runs in opposition to a recommendation Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that he not run because it would create a “polarized situation” that would be “harmful for the county.”

Ahmadinejad had ruled out running in the wake of Khamenei’s comments in September, but after reversing course this week he called the supreme leader’s comments “just advice” that does not prevent him from running.

Iran’s Rouhani registers to run for re-election

TEHRAN, Iran — Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, the driving force behind a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, registered on Friday to run for re-election next month, state television footage showed.

The politically moderate cleric faces a tougher than expected battle for a second term on May 19 as criticism mounts over the continued stagnation of the economy.

The president appeared in the afternoon at the interior ministry, where registration to stand for the election runs until Saturday.

He has made much of his successes in controlling inflation and reaching a landmark nuclear deal with world powers that ended many sanctions.

“In every aspect that you consider, figures tell us that after the (nuclear deal), there is more space for movement and progress,” he told reporters last week.

Rouhani’s support among moderate and reformist lawmakers remains solid, but disappointment with the 68-year-old’s administration is palpable on the streets.

Unemployment is stuck at 12 percent, the promised billions in foreign investment have not materialised, and he has failed to ease social restrictions or release political prisoners, including opposition figures held under house arrest for their part in 2009 protests.

The conservative opposition remains divided, but attention has lately focused on hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi, 56, who runs the powerful Imam Reza charitable foundation.

Raisi has emphasised his concern for the poor, and is seen as a close ally of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Also, in a surprise move earlier this week, the country’s controversial former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad registered to run, contradicting a recommendation from the nation’s supreme leader that he stay out of the race.

Ahmadinejad previously said he wasn’t going to run after Khamenei advised him not to, saying he would instead support his former deputy Hamid Baghaei who also registered on Wednesday.

Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, right, and his close ally Hamid Baghaei flash the victory sign as they arrive at the Interior Ministry to register their candidacy for the upcoming presidential elections, in Tehran, Iran, April 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Many hard-liners in Iran seek a tough-talking candidate to rally around who can stand up to US President Donald Trump. But Ahmadinejad’s candidacy could expose the fissures inside Iranian politics that linger since his contested 2009 re-election, which brought massive unrest.

Ahmadinejad previously served two four-year terms from 2005 to 2013. Under Iranian law, he became eligible to run again after four years out of office, but he remains a polarizing figure, even among fellow hard-liners

The conservative-controlled Guardian Council will vet the hundreds of registered hopefuls over the coming week, before releasing a final list of candidates.

In surprise move, Iran’s Ahmadinejad registers to run for president

Iran’s former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has filed to run in the country’s May presidential election, contradicting a recommendation from the nation’s supreme leader that he stay out of the race.

Associated Press journalists watched as stunned election officials processed Ahmadinejad’s paperwork on Wednesday.

Ahmadinejad previously said he wasn’t going to run after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei advised him not to, saying he would instead support his former deputy Hamid Baghaei who also registered on Wednesday.

At a press conference Wednesday, Ahmadinejad called Khamenei’s comments “just advice,” and described his registering for the election as helping Baghaei, a close confidant.

Many hard-liners in Iran seek a tough-talking candidate to rally around who can stand up to US President Donald Trump. But Ahmadinejad’s candidacy could expose the fissures inside Iranian politics that linger since his contested 2009 re-election, which brought massive unrest.

Iranians arrive to the interior ministry's election headquarters as candidates begin to sign up for the upcoming presidential elections in Tehran on April 11, 2017. (AFP/ATTA KENARE)

Iran’s moderate President Hassan Rouhani, who negotiated the nuclear deal with world powers, is expected to run for re-election.

Ahmadinejad previously served two four-year terms from 2005 to 2013. Under Iranian law, he became eligible to run again after four years out of office, but he remains a polarizing figure, even among fellow hard-liners.

Ahmadinejad was reviled in Israel and the West for repeatedly questioning the scale of the Holocaust, calling for the destruction of the Jewish state and expanding Iran’s contested nuclear program.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visits the Natanz enrichment facility in 2008 (photo credit: www.president.ir)

Two of his former vice presidents have been jailed for corruption since he left office. Iran’s economy suffered under heavy international sanctions during his administration because of Western suspicions that Tehran was secretly pursuing nuclear weapons. Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

In this Monday, June 15, 2009 file photo, hundreds of thousands of supporters of leading opposition presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, who claims there was voting fraud in Friday's election, turn out to protest the result of the election at a mass rally in Azadi (Freedom) square in Tehran, Iran. (photo credit: AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File)

Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election in 2009 sparked massive protests and a sweeping crackdown in which thousands of people were detained, dozens killed and others tortured.

The memory of the 2009 unrest likely sparked Khamenei’s comments in September. At that time, he recommended an unnamed candidate not seek office as it would bring about a “polarized situation” that would be “harmful for the county.”