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Diplomats meet on Iran deal as Trump stays mum on decision

Updated: 
September 21, 2017 - 12:05am

NEW YORK — President Donald Trump has determined how he wants to approach the Iran nuclear deal — which he has called the worst agreement ever negotiated by the United States — but has not told even his top national security advisers what his decision is.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday that Trump had not informed him or others in the administration about his decision and had refused to share it with British Prime Minister Theresa May when she asked him about it.

Tillerson said he had been surprised when Trump publicly announced he had reached a decision. The secretary told reporters it would now take some time to prepare to implement the decisions. He gave no hint as to the direction Trump would take, but repeated the president’s long-standing position that the deal does not address troubling non-nuclear behavior despite the hopes of those who negotiated it.

Tillerson spoke to reporters after a meeting of the parties to the nuclear deal, including Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. The meeting marked the highest-level U.S.-Iranian encounter since Trump became president.

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who hosted the meeting, said all parties to the accord — including Tillerson — agreed it “is working and is delivering for its purpose.”

Tillerson did not dispute Mogherini’s characterization but said that while Iran might be meeting its obligations to the letter of the deal, it is violating its spirit.

“Perhaps the technical aspects have (been met), but in the broader context the aspiration has not,” Tillerson said. He later conceded that reports from the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, “continue to confirm that Iran is in technical compliance with the agreement.”

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