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Tillerson: US to stay in Iran nuclear deal, fix 'flaws'

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Oct. 15 that the U.S. will work within the existing Iran nuclear deal to address what the Trump administration maintains are flaws in the multilateral pact.

"Let's see if we cannot address the flaws in the agreement, stay within the agreement working with other signatories, working with our European friends and allies within the agreement," Tillerson said during an interview on CNN's "State of the Union" on Oct. 15. "But that may come in a secondary agreement as well."

Asked whether he agrees with Secretary of Defense James Mattis who reportedly said staying in the deal was in the best interests of the U.S., Tillerson said: "I do agree with that and I think the president does as well."

Tillerson's comments came on the heels of President Donald Trump declaration Oct. 13 that the U.S. would not certify Iran's compliance with the 2015 pact and a warning that he might terminate the deal if it is not strengthened. While Trump stopped short of withdrawing the U.S. from the pact, his actions drew a sharp rebuke from Iranian leaders and concerns from European leaders who vowed to stand by the deal.

Trump's new approach, outlined in a speech, marked a shift in U.S. policy toward Iran, as the administration seeks to take a more aggressive stance against Iran's ballistic missile programs and its support for extremest groups in the Middle East.

"We want to take the agreement as it exists today, fully enforce that agreement, be very demanding of Iran's compliance under the agreement and then begin the process of addressing these flaws that we see around the absence of addressing [Iran's] ballistic missiles, for example, and the concern we have around the sunset provisions, this phaseout of this agreement," Tillerson said.