WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Donald Trump has ordered a 90-day interagency review to investigate whether lifting sanctions against Iran as part of a nuclear accord with world powers is in the national security interests of the United States.
The April 19 order came one day after the State Department notified Congress that Iran was complying with the terms of the landmark 2015 agreement between Tehran and six world powers.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters on April 19 that Trump was "doing the prudent thing by asking for a review of the current deal."
Certification of Iran's compliance with the deal must be sent to the U.S. Congress every 90 days. The April 18 notification was the first by the Trump administration.
The State Department on April 18 also said it had extended sanctions relief to Tehran under the agreement.
The 2015 agreement lifted crippling international economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for moves by Tehran to curtail its uranium-enrichment program and pledges of more transparency.
Like many Republicans, Trump has sharply criticized the deal, insisting that it rewarded Iran's hostile policies in the Middle East, including support for rebels in Yemen, and its continuing missile program.
During last year's presidential campaign, Trump called the agreement "the worst deal ever negotiated."
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters in Washington on April 19 that the deal would fail to achieve its stated objective of preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
He said it also failed to look at Iran's overall policies in the region, and merely "passed the buck" on the nuclear program to a future administration.
But Tillerson signaled the possibility that the Trump administration would uphold it anyway.
Earlier on April 19, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis voiced similar criticism of Tehran.
"Everywhere you look, if there is trouble in the region, you find Iran," Mattis said after talks with senior Saudi officials in Riyadh.
Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, warned in November that Tehran would retaliate if the United States breached the nuclear agreement.
With reporting by AP and Reuters