‘Playing with fire’: US ramps up tough talk on Iran after it exceeds nuclear deal cap

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Washington has unleashed a fresh barrage of threats against Tehran, with US President Donald Trump warning it against “playing with fire” and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo branding it a “top sponsor of terrorism.”

Fresh from rekindling his strange bromance with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un, Trump has returned to his war-mongering ways, leveling a vague new warning at Iran. Asked whether he has a message for Iran after its stockpiles of enriched uranium exceeded the 300kg cap envisioned in the 2015 nuclear deal, Trump told reporters at the White House on Monday that he had “no message whatsoever” but added that Iran knew it was “playing with fire.”

Earlier the same day, Pompeo responded to the news of Iran going beyond the stockpile limit set by the deal the US effectively dismantled by accusing Tehran of “using its nuclear program to extort the international community and threaten regional security.” Rounding up his tirade, the US top diplomat said Iran “can never be allowed to enrich uranium at any level,” calling the Islamic Republic “the world’s top sponsor of terrorism.”

The US has drawn international condemnation for pulling out of the universally-acclaimed nuclear accord last May. However, despite being blamed for all but killing the deal and not sticking to its terms itself, Washington has bashed Iran for not abiding by its conditions, even when the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) repeatedly found it in compliance.

The White House has gone one step further on Monday, producing an eyebrow-raising argument in support of its stance.

 “There is little doubt that even before the deal’s existence, Iran was violating its terms,” the statement by the White House press secretary reads.

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READ MORE: Tehran time travel? US accuses Iran of violating nuclear deal ‘even before its existence’

The peculiar wording of the press release did not escape the mockery by Twitter pundits, with some suggesting that the Trump administration watched “too many time travel movies.”

The deal that capped Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief  was struck between Iran and the five world powers under the Obama administration in 2015, and has been repeatedly denounced as the “worst deal ever” by Trump since then.

While Iran has been on the US list of state sponsors of terrorism since 1984, with the relations between the two going further south under Trump, Washington in April designated Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards as a “terrorist organization,” prompting Iran to place the US Army on its own “terror list.” The US has been beefing up its military presence in the region at least since May, having sent nuclear-capable bombers, a carrier strike group, missile batteries and an additional 2,500 troops to the area.

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