BRUSSELS – US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson encouraged the European Union on Tuesday to join Washington in taking action against Iran’s destabilizing actions in the Middle East, particularly its support for militia groups across the region’s war zones.
Following a press conference with his EU counterpart Federica Mogherini in Brussels, Rex Tillerson echoed his government’s tough stance on Iran with regards to its alleged support for allied foreign militias such as the Houthis in Yemen, but fell short of re-iterating threats to scrap the international nuclear deal that in 2015 saw Tehran trade in much of its nuclear program for the easing of economic sanctions.
“These issues and activities of Iran cannot be ignored and cannot go unanswered and we intend to continue to take action to ensure Iran understands that this is not acceptable to us and we look forward to working with European partners in that regard as well. It’s a threat to many of our shared values,” Washington’s top diplomat said.
Tillerson said the US believed that ballistic missiles recently fired by the Houthi rebels in Yemen had been sourced in Iran and denounced the country’s proxy involvement in the wars in Syria and Iraq as well as its continued support for the Lebanese armed group Hezbollah, designated a terrorist group by the US and the EU.
During the bilateral meeting, the pair had underlined the joint efforts ensuring that Iran complied with the stipulations of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the nuclear accord struck by Iran, China, France, Russia, the UK, the US, Germany and the EU, Tillerson said.
Mogherini stressed the EU’s position that the continued implementation of the JCPOA was a strategic priority for regional, European and global security.
She acknowledged that the EU would work closely with the US on the points raised by Tillerson but only if Washington upheld its commitment to the nuclear deal.
The landmark deal with Iran, which was struck while Barack Obama was in the White House, became a source of contention between Washington and Brussels after current US president, Donald Trump, repeatedly threatened to pull his support for it, calling it “the worst deal ever negotiated.”