Tillerson: US, European countries may not reach agreement ahead of Iran nuclear deal deadline

Tillerson: US, European countries may not reach agreement ahead of Iran nuclear deal deadline
© Greg Nash

Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonOvernight Defense: Book says Trump called military leaders 'dopes and babies' | House reinvites Pompeo for Iran hearing | Dems urge Esper to reject border wall funding request Kudlow says Trump 'looking at' reforming law on bribing foreign officials Trump called top military brass 'a bunch of dopes and babies' in 2017: book MORE on Monday said the U.S. may not be able fix the flaws in the Iran nuclear agreement in time to meet a White House deadline because the deal is contingent on getting three European countries to join efforts to monitor Iran's nuclear program.

When President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says his advice to impeachment defense team is 'just be honest' Trump expands tariffs on steel and aluminum imports CNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group MORE waived sanctions against Iran earlier this month — a requirement under the Obama-era 2015 nuclear deal — he emphasized that he would not sign off on U.S. sanctions relief in May unless Europe agrees to help restrict Iranian missile testing and development as well as conduct inspections. 

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Tillerson suggested that despite talks expected to get underway this week, he cannot force other countries to follow the U.S. timeline. 

"The U.S. is under a bit of a timetable to deliver on what the president is looking for, but we don’t — we can’t set timetables for others," Tillerson told reporters accompanying him on a flight from London to Paris.

The secretary said he plans to address the matter by hosting for a working dinner Germany, France and Italy, countries the U.S. has had previous informal talks with about the deal, as well as the European Union.

"So this is just a continuation of the exchange of views on how we can address these flaws in the nuclear agreement, what kind of mechanisms could we use, but also how can we cooperate more on countering Iran’s activities that are not related to the nuclear program," he said, pointing to the U.S. concerns about Iran's "arms exports to Yemen and elsewhere." 

"So we’re formalizing — I think maybe what we’re doing is we’re formalizing these groups to put a little bit more of structure around our working together to see what we can do together," he added.