President Obama spent a significant amount of time and effort appeasing Iran and working towards the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Iran nuclear deal, which was eventually signed in 2015. 

He said that the Iran nuclear deal was the best way to move forward with the country, but earlier this week Secretary of State Rex Tillerson highlighted many areas of great concern. He pointed out that Iran’s “ongoing provocations” and its “export of terror and violence (…) [is] destabilizing more than one country at a time” in the region. 

Tillerson said that Iran’s unlawful quest for missile technology and its nuclear ambitions (that have only been put on hold as a result of the nuclear deal, rather than eliminated) is proof that the country poses a great threat to not just the United States and the Middle East, but also the world. 

He added that although Iran has been complying with the terms of the nuclear deal, it was time for all of Iran’s actions to be addressed. 

Tillerson also criticised President Obama for delaying decisions and actions in Iran with the purpose of leaving the difficult part for the next President. Obama ignored many of the very serious and threatening issues and instead concentrated on the nuclear deal which ignored everything but the nuclear aspect. While the nuclear negotiations were ongoing, many called on him to address at least the human rights issues; but he didn’t. Tillerson said: “The Trump administration has no intention of passing the buck to a future administration on Iran.”

Although we do not know how the Trump administration will actually act, the Iranian threat has been acknowledged by numerous officials. 

A few days ago, President Trump once again criticised the nuclear deal and said that Iran is “not living up to the spirit of the agreement”. He added: “And we’re analyzing it very, very carefully and we’ll have something to say about it in the not-too-distant future.”

Defense Secretary James Mattis applauded Saudi efforts in trying to stabilise the Middle East and said that Iran is central to the numerous crises in the region. 

“Everywhere you look, if there’s trouble in the region, you find Iran … The nations in the region and others elsewhere are trying to checkmate Iran and the amount of disruption, the amount of instability they can cause.”