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Tillerson contradicts Trump on Iran nuclear deal

Tillerson and EU representative discuss 'joint efforts' to 'hold Iran fully compliant' with terms of the nuclear deal.

Rex Tillerson

The US secretary of state has expressed his support for the Iran nuclear deal, placing him at odds with US President Donald Trump who has labelled the agreement, "the worst deal ever".

Rex Tillerson's statement, made in Brussels on Tuesday as part of a joint address with Frederica Mogherini, the European Union's high representative, appears to contradict Trump's October decision to "decertify" the 2015 agreement which prevents Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

"We discussed, as the high representative mentioned, our joint efforts under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to hold Iran fully compliant with the terms of that deal and fully enforce that agreement," he said.

The JCPOA, agreed to by the UN's P5+1, the EU and Iran, imposes restrictions on Iran's stockpiles of uranium and capacity to enrich it.

Iran has fully adhered to the terms of the agreement, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a body which seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy in coordination with the UN.

However, Trump has accused Iran of failing to live up to the spirit of the accord and passed the agreement to the US Congress to toughen up US policy on Iran's nuclear programme.

Congress is due to return an amended agreement to Trump for consideration in the next few days.

Despite his support for the deal, Tillerson said Iran "is carrying out a number of other destabilising actions in the region" including backing the Houthi rebels in Yemen's civil war, deploying weapons and forces in Syria and continuing support for Hezbollah.

"These issues and activities of Iran cannot be ignored and cannot go unanswered, and we intend to continue to take action to ensure Iran understands this is not acceptable to us, and we look forward to working with our European partners in that regard," he said.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has said Iran will seek to resolve problems in the region through "dialogue instead of confrontation", but added both "diplomacy and military power" were necessary for the country in order to realise its foreign policy goals.

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