Tehran Downplays Impact of Tillerson’s Replacement on Iran-US Ties

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman says the replacement of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is a continuation of shakeups in Trump’s Cabinet, playing down its impact on Washington’s Iran policy and the fate of the 2015 nuclear deal.

“Such replacements in the US establishment are not surprising. We have witnessed many changes in the incumbent administration so far,” Bahram Qassemi said on Wednesday, referring to the replacement of Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo on Tuesday.

The chief diplomat’s dismissal came after a series of public rifts over US policy on North Korea, Russia and Iran.

The decision was announced by the president on Twitter as his administration works towards a potential meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after months of harsh rhetoric and rising tensions on Pyongyang’s nuclear program.

Qassemi, who was speaking in his last press conference in this Iranian year (ending March 20), described the replacement as a “domestic issue”.

“What matters to us is the US approach towards international issues and Iran. We will monitor US policies and act according to them,” he said, according to a Farsi report by ISNA.

The rare firing of the United States’ top diplomat capped months of friction between the Republican president and the 65-year-old former Exxon Mobil Corp chief executive.

The tensions peaked last fall amid reports Tillerson had called Trump a “moron” and considered resigning.

Analysts believe the move would sow more instability in the volatile Trump administration and marks the replacement of another moderate with a hawk, Reuters reported.

Tillerson had pressed Trump to stick with the nuclear agreement with Iran and other world powers.

Some analysts are worried that Pompeo would encourage Trump to scrap the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

Iran Warns US against ‘Foolish’ Moves against Syria

During the press conference, Qassemi also warned Washington against taking any “foolish” decisions with regards to Syria, as speculation mounts that the administration of Trump is gearing up for a military strike against the country.

He advised Washington to carefully consider the implications before adopting any interventionist policies in the Middle East.

“That America takes hostile actions against the countries of the region is nothing new but the US cannot intervene and this is a kind of invasion nonetheless,” said Qassemi, as reported by Press TV.

“Nations in the region have shown that they will not accept foreign presence and we hope the US reconsiders this foolish decision,” he added.

There have been reports that the US and some of its Western allies partaking in an airstrike campaign against purported terrorist positions inside Syria are considering a large-scale military action against the Arab country under the pretext that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad uses chemical weapons against its people.

Defending Tehran’s military advisory role in Syria, Qassemi said Wednesday that unlike the US-led coalition, Iran’s presence in Syria has been based on an official request by Damascus to help it with the fight against terrorism.

“We hope that peace returns to Syria through diplomacy,” he said.

The possibility of a new US-led attack against Assad’s government has gained more weight in the recent weeks, following the Syrian military’s advances in Eastern Ghouta, a Damascus suburb and one of the last strongholds of ISIS terrorists.

   
   

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