By Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL
by jailed Iranian cartoonist Hadi Heidari
WASHINGTON -- A senior U.S. official says Iran so far has kept its commitments under the nuclear agreement with world powers implemented last month.
Stephen Mull, the State Department's lead coordinator for implementing the deal curbing Iran's nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief, told the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee on February 11 that there is no evidence that Tehran is cheating.
"Whenever we've detected that there may be a potential for moving away from the commitments, we've engaged with our Iranian counterparts, and they've addressed those concerns every single time," Mull said.
Mull and John Smith, acting director of the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, testified at the first senior-level congressional hearing held on the nuclear deal since it was implemented on January 16.
Lawmakers questioned the two officials over Iran's ballistic-missile program, its support for terrorism, and help for its regional ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
"As an agency tasked with implementing and enforcing U.S. economic sanctions, we're clear-eyed about the fact that Iran remains a state sponsor of terrorism and continues to engage in other destabilizing activities," Smith told the hearing.
"We believe it is crucial to implement and enforce the sanctions that remain in place," he added.
Some lawmakers suggested that Washington should take a tougher line against Tehran.
"The U.S. no longer seems to care as much about Iran's human rights atrocities and its support for terrorism worldwide because the administration seems solely fixed on giving Iran a good report card on complying with the nuclear deal," said U.S. Representative lleana Ros-Lehtinen (Republican-Florida).
"We seem to be, in many instances, talking tough about Iran," said Representative Eliot Engel of New York, the top Democrat on the committee, who has been among opponents of the deal. "In reality our actions are far away from our rhetoric, and that's a worrisome thing. We want to make sure that Iran's feet are held to the fire."
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