US Strategic Command chief: Iran adhering to nuclear deal

US Strategic Command chief: Iran adhering to nuclear deal
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Iran is adhering to the landmark nuclear deal, the top general of U.S. Strategic Command said Wednesday, hours after President Trump claimed he’s made a decision about whether to withdraw from the agreement.

“The facts are that Iran is operating under the agreements the we signed up for under the JCPOA,” Gen. John Hyten said at a Hudson Institute event, using the acronym for the formal name of the deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

“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.”

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Hyten was responding to a question about how Iran might benefit from North Korea’s missile and nuclear program, both in terms of cooperation between the two countries and by seeing what Pyongyang can get away with.

Opponents of the nuclear deal argue that Iran is liable to become another North Korea, which has flouted multiple agreements over the years. Meanwhile, proponents of the nuclear deal argue withdrawing will send a message to North Korea that it cannot trust the United States on future nuclear negotiations.

The 2015 nuclear deal provided Iran with sanctions relief in exchange for Tehran curbing its nuclear program.

The deal did not cover Iran’s other provocative activities, such as its missile program, a fact that critics of the deal point to as one of its shortcomings.

Throughout his campaign, President Trump ripped the pact as “one of the worst” deals he’s ever seen.

Still, he’s certified that Iran is in compliance with the deal both times the congressionally mandated deadline to do so has come up in his presidency.

The next deadline is Oct. 15. If Trump does not certify compliance for Iran, Congress has 60 days to decide whether to re-impose sanctions.

On Tuesday, in his United Nations General Assembly speech, Trump intensified his criticism of the deal and hinted he may not recertify Iran’s compliance.

“The Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into,” Trump said. “Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States and I don’t think you have heard the last of it, believe me.”

Asked Wednesday if he’s made a decision, Trump said he had but would not elaborate.

"I have decided," he said, adding, "I'll let you know what the decision is."

In his Wednesday afternoon speech, Hyten said the United States must figure out how to respond to Iran’s missile tests. But, he added, America made a commitment in the nuclear deal it should not break.

“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,” he said.

Hyten would not speak specifically on the relationship between Iran and North Korea, but said generally the entire world watches what the United States does.

“Everybody’s watching us wherever we are, and everything we do down to the smallest tactical level in today’s world delivers a strategic message to not just the United States and our citizens, but our allies and our adversaries,” he said. “And yes, what we decided to do with and around North Korea will have an effect on everything we do. So we have to consider that as well.”

This story was updated at 4:03 p.m.