Tillerson slams Iran as destabilizing force in Middle East

Tillerson slams Iran as destabilizing force in Middle East
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Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonOvernight Defense: Trump recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital | Mattis, Tillerson reportedly opposed move | Pentagon admits 2,000 US troops are in Syria | Trump calls on Saudis to 'immediately' lift Yemen blockade Trump has yet to name ambassadors to key nations in Mideast Mattis, Tillerson warned Trump of security concerns in Israel embassy move MORE on Wednesday delivered one of his firmest rebukes yet of Iran, accusing the country of working to destabilize the Middle East through its sponsorship of terrorist groups and proxy wars throughout the region.

Tillerson's remarks come as the Trump administration reviews U.S. policy toward Iran. While he tore into the country over its hostility toward Israel and its efforts to upend U.S. interests in the Middle East, he did not indicate that the Trump administration would withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal struck under the Obama administration.

"Iran is the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, and is responsible for intensifying multiple conflicts and undermining U.S. interests in countries such as Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon, and continuing to support attacks against Israel," he said during an appearance at the State Department.

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"An unchecked Iran has the potential to travel the same path as North Korea, and take the world along with it," Tillerson added.

Tillerson's comments echoed those of Defense Secretary James Mattis, who said earlier Wednesday that Iran's destabilizing presence was responsible for ongoing conflict and discord in Yemen, adding that Iranian influence would have to be overcome in order to end fighting there.

Tillerson said in a statement on Tuesday that Iran appeared to be meeting its commitments under the nuclear deal, which is aimed at curbing Tehran's pursuit of a nuclear weapon in exchange for lifted sanctions. But he also said that the Trump administration would re-evaluate the agreement.

"The [nuclear deal] fails to achieve the objective of a non-nuclear Iran. It only delays their goal of becoming a nuclear state," Tillerson said. "This deal represents the same failed approach of the past that brought us to the current imminent threat we face from North Korea."