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Politics Trump says he fired Tillerson due to a disagreement over the Iran deal

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"When you look at the Iran deal, I thought it was terrible. He thought it was okay," Trump said.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump, flanked by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, holds a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington, U.S., December 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst play

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump, flanked by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, holds a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington, U.S., December 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

(Thomson Reuters)
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  • President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he dismissed Rex Tillerson as secretary of state at least in part over a disagreement on how best to proceed with the Iran deal.
  • "When you look at the Iran deal, I thought it was terrible. He thought it was okay. I wanted to either break it or do something, he felt a little differently," Trump said.
  • Trump campaigned on ripping up the Iran deal, but has so far only decertified it, rather than removing the US as a party to the agreement.

President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he dismissed Rex Tillerson as secretary of state at least in part over a disagreement on how best to proceed with the Iran deal.

"We got along actually quite well, but we disagreed on things," Trump said as he boarded the Marine One presidential helicopter en route to view prototypes for his proposed border wall.

"When you look at the Iran deal, I thought it was terrible. He thought it was okay. I wanted to either break it or do something, he felt a little differently," Trump said.

"So we were not really thinking the same. With Mike, Mike Pompeo, we have a very similar thought process. I think it's going to go very well. Rex is a very good man. I like Rex a lot. I really appreciate his commitment to service and I'll be speaking to Rex over a long period of time," Trump said.

Trump campaigned on ripping up the Iran deal, but has so far only decertified it, rather than removing the US as a party to the agreement. Experts say that Iran could quickly start enriching uranium and building nuclear systems if the US withdrew from the deal.

Iran has threatened to withdraw from the deal after Trump put additional sanctions on Tehran, but it has so far remained a part of it and international inspectors have consistently reported that it's holding up its end of the agreement.

The Trump administration has taken aim at Iran for its behavior in the Middle East, where it has a large military and paramilitary presence in the Syrian civil war. The US also accuses Iran of trying to create a land bridge from Tehran to Beirut in Lebanon by gaining control of Syria's southern regions and influence over Iraq.

Iranian and US-backed forces have frequently clashed in Syria, and the Iranian navy plagued the US Navy's operations in the Persian Gulf during Barack Obama's presidency.

Here's Trump addressing the reason why he fired Tillerson: