U.S. secretary of state, on visit to Brussels, says Tehran’s behavior poses threat to region

Tillerson Calls on European Allies to Tackle Iranian Missile Program

12/6/2017 10:59:08 AM

Rex Tillerson and Federica Mogherini in Brussels on Tuesday

Rex Tillerson and Federica Mogherini in Brussels on Tuesday

BRUSSELS, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 5, 2017 —U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called on European allies to work with Washington to tackle Iran’s missile program and its regional activities, saying Tehran’s behavior cannot go unanswered.
Speaking in Brussels alongside European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, Mr. Tillerson said Iran’s interference in Yemen, its exporting of weapons and militias to Syria and its support for Lebanon’s Hezbollah group pose a threat to the region.
“These issues and activities of Iran cannot be ignored and go unanswered and we intend to continue to take action to ensure Iran understands this is not acceptable and look forward to working with the European partners in that regard as well,” he said.
Ms. Mogherini said the EU was willing to work on these issues with Washington but made it clear that joint action depended on the U.S. continuing to abide by the Iranian nuclear deal. President Donald Trump has strongly criticized the nuclear deal and has asked Congress to tighten the terms under which the U.S. abides by the deal.
Calling the Iranian nuclear agreement “a key strategic priority for European security,” Ms. Mogherini said Iran’s regional activities and missile program should be discussed separately from the nuclear deal.
Iran says its missile program is for defensive purposes and isn’t forbidden under the nuclear deal. It has openly supported the Assad regime in Syria and blamed Saudi Arabia for escalating the conflict in Yemen, warning European countries to respect its sovereignty on military matters.
Ms. Mogherini has ruled out the EU tightening sanctions on Iran in the near term over its missile tests or regional activities. However, the French and German governments this week called on Iran to reverse its actions on both. Most European sanctions on Iran were lifted after the nuclear deal was implemented in January 2016.
Mr. Tillerson said the U.S. is committed to working with the Europeans to “hold Iran fully compliant with the terms of” the Iran deal and to “fully enforce that agreement.”
Ms. Mogherini also urged the Trump administration not to relocate its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The White House has said a decision will be made in coming days.
“The European Union supports the resumption of a meaningful peace process towards a two-state solution. We believe that any action that would undermine these efforts must absolutely be avoided,” Ms. Mogherini said. “A way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of both states.”
Mr. Tillerson is meeting Tuesday afternoon with other EU foreign ministers in Brussels.
Mr. Tillerson’s trip to Europe has been overshadowed somewhat by speculation about his future in the post. However, ahead of the meeting, EU foreign ministers said there were too many important issues to discuss to be distracted by the speculation.
“These rumors are always spreading and frankly it’s not the first time. We shouldn’t focus on rumors. We should focus on events on the ground and the key aspects of our cooperation,” said Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius.