Tillerson: US, European allies working on Iran nuclear deal

Tillerson: US, European allies working on Iran nuclear deal
© Keren Carrion

Working groups have begun meeting to discuss possible ways to address what the Trump administration sees as serious flaws in the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonTrump lashes out over Kelly criticism: 'He misses the action' Timeline: Trump and Romney's rocky relationship Top Democrat demands Barr recuse himself from case against Turkish bank MORE said Saturday.

Speaking to reporters in Warsaw, Poland, Tillerson said that the U.S. had already reached an agreement with Germany, France and the United Kingdom — the three European countries involved in the Iran deal — to identify problem areas within the agreement.

The working groups, he said, are looking at the scope of what to address in the Iran deal, as well as how to engage Tehran on possible fixes to those issues. 

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"What we have agreed to do is work with our European counterparts, the E3 most particularly, and ultimately the [European Union], to identify what areas we believe have to be addressed and a mechanism by which we can address those," Tillerson said. 

The Iran deal was brokered under the Obama administration, and sought to curb Iran's nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in sanctions relief. 

But President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden campaign: Trump and former vice president will have phone call about coronavirus Esper: Military personnel could help treat coronavirus patients 'if push comes to shove' Schumer calls for military official to act as medical equipment czar MORE has blasted the agreement as an ineffective capitulation to Iran that has failed to halt Iranian aggression in the Middle East and elsewhere. He moved in October to disavow the deal, kicking the task over to Congress to determine whether to reimpose sanctions lifted under the agreement. 

In refusing to certify Iran's compliance with the terms of the agreement, Trump stopped short of withdrawing the U.S. from the pact. Earlier this month, Trump moved to extend sanctions relief for Iran, but threatened to "terminate" the deal unless Congress and European allies agreed to fix what the administration has described as flaws in it.

Tehran has rejected the notion of renegotiating the agreement, and has accused the U.S. of reversing on its commitments.

In his comments on Saturday, Tillerson said the Iran deal "only represents a small part" of Washington's policies on Iran, noting that the Trump administration is also concerned with Iran's backing of Houthi rebels in Yemen and Hezbollah in Lebanon, as well as its support for militias in Iraq and Syria. 

"The U.S. has greater concerns and more immediate concerns regarding Iran’s malign behaviors throughout the region," he said.