Iran will likely have to agree to complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization in any future deal with the United States, just like North Korea, a top diplomatic official signaled Friday.
“Nothing in the conduct of foreign policy is ever done in a vacuum,” Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, Dr. Yleem D.S. Poblete, told an audience in Washington.
“The end state we must seek for the successful conclusion of any future deal with Iran must also inform and be informed by the end state we are seeking for North Korea,” she said. “Inconsistency in our approach to either negotiation will undermine our credibility and most likely doom the prospects for successfully dealing with the threats to our security posed by these and other actors.”
Demands that Pyongyang dismantle all of its nuclear facilities have been central to the U.S. position in meetings with top North Korean officials.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated to U.S. Senate lawmakers Thursday that the “objective remains the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea as agreed to by Chairman Kim Jong Un.”
The Trump administration has been more confrontational with Iran in recent weeks, with President Donald Trump threating Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in a tweet this past Sunday.
“Never, ever threaten the United States again or you will suffer consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before,” Trump tweeted.
National Security Adviser John Bolton likewise warned this week that, “if Iran does anything at all to the negative, they will pay a price like few countries have ever paid before.”
Tough rhetoric, sanctions
Some analysts and former officials say Trump may be using the tough rhetoric to drive Tehran back to negotiations over its nuclear capabilities, similar to the tactics that he used in the runup to talks with North Korea’s leader.
The U.S. and other world powers had a deal to limit Iran’s nuclear capabilities, the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, but Trump announced in May that the U.S. was pulling out of what he has repeatedly called a “terrible” agreement.
The International Atomic Energy Agency has said Tehran continues to comply with the terms of the JCPOA.
U.S. officials say they are willing to negotiate a new deal with Iran but insist any new agreement must also address Iran’s missile programs as well as its support of terror groups and other malign activities. In the meantime, the U.S. is set to re-impose economic sanctions on Tehran.
“Insofar as it is possible for Iran, we shall remain party to the accord, we shall not quit the JCPOA on condition that we can also benefit from it,” Iran’s Rouhani said earlier this month during a visit to Vienna.
But the head of Iran’s atomic energy agency has since said that the country has not built a factory that can produce 60 nuclear centrifuges a day — necessary if Tehran decides to increase its production of enriched uranium.
‘Full spectrum of threats’
“Any new agreement must address the full spectrum of threats,” the State Department’s Poblete said Friday. “It should verifiably and indefinitely deny Iran all paths to nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, rather merely contain, control or delay it.”
Poblete also criticized Iran’s ally Syria for its failure to adhere to its commitments under the Treaty of Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, suggesting its nuclear activities have continued despite the destruction of its reactor as a result of an Israeli airstrike in 2007.
“Syria’s failure to cooperate with the IAEA remains a matter of ongoing concern,” she said. “Syria continues to go to great lengths to deceive, obfuscate and distract international attention from its perennial noncompliance.”