WASHINGTON – Hours after President Donald Trump said he had made a decision about whether or not the U.S. will pull out of the Iran nuclear accord, the head of the U.S. Strategic Command said that Iran is abiding by the agreement and that the U.S. should uphold its part.
“The facts are that Iran is operating under the agreements that we signed up for under the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action),” Gen. John Hyten said at an event hosted by the Hudson Institute, a Washington, D.C. think tank.
“But at the same time they are rapidly, rapidly deploying and developing a whole series of ballistic missiles and testing ballistic missiles at all ranges that provide significant concerns to not just the United States, but our allies. And why are they doing that? They’re doing that so they can challenge the Unites States and our allies somewhere down the road.”
Hyten said that the U.S. will need to work out how to respond to the evolving missile threat, but that it is an issue separate from the nuclear accord. The nuclear accord is a 2015 agreement between Iran and six world powers that exchanged lifting international sanctions for temporary limits on its nuclear program.
“We have an agreement that our nation has signed and I believe the United States of America signs an agreement, it’s our job to live up to the terms of that agreement, how to enforce that,” Hyten said.
He said that the world is watching U.S. military operations globally, and that each action taken by the U.S. sends a “strategic message to not just the United States and our citizens, but our allies and our adversaries.”
Hyten had been asked about reported cooperation between Iran and North Korea on their illicit missile programs, and what sort of message U.S. action regarding Iran’s missile program could send to North Korea. He declined to speculate on the partnership between Iran and North Korea.
The Trump administration has taken the position that Iran is in violation of the spirit of the nuclear accord, while acknowledging that Iran is in “technical compliance.” The Trump administration has said Iran has continued destabilizing activities not covered by the agreement, including advancing its missile program and supporting terrorist groups in the Middle East.
Under U.S. law, President Donald Trump has until Oct. 15 to certify to Congress whether Iran is complying with the agreement. If Trump chose not to certify to Congress that the Iran is upholding the deal, Congress could reimpose domestic sanctions removed under the deal, thus derailing it. Congress could choose to not reimpose the sanctions.