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Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson calls for 'full review' of Iran nuclear deal, not ripping it up

 (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)
(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

If he is confirmed as secretary of State, Rex Tillerson said he would plan a "full review" of the international accord that blocks Iran's ability to build a nuclear bomb.

But appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Tillerson did not promise to rip up the deal, as President-elect Donald Trump sometimes has said he would do.

Tillerson said he would increase monitoring and verification systems to ensure Iran does not violate the agreement, which eased international sanctions against the country in exchange for destroying most of its nuclear fuel production facilities.

“We need ... to examine our ability to clarify whether Iran is complying,” Tillerson told the committee.

“That means no nuclear enrichment in Iran, no storing of nuclear materials in Iran,” he said.

Reports from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations nuclear watchdog, have not cited any significant violations by Iran since the deal was implemented last January.

Tillerson also said he favored “empowering” women in the developing world.

In December, the Trump transition team had raised concerns when it requested information on State Department staffing and budgets for foreign aid programs intended to help women and promote general equality. Many of the programs were begun when Hillary Clinton headed the State Department.

Under questioning from the lone female member of the committee, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Tillerson committed to continuing those programs, not rolling them back.

Tillerson also was questioned about fears that the Trump administration would conduct a “witch hunt” of Obama-era officials who worked on programs aimed at reducing climate change.

“That would be a pretty unhelpful way to get started,” Tillerson said, to laughter.

Asked his personal views on climate change, Tillerson said his many years as an engineer and scientist had convinced him that “the risk of climate change does exist.”

He said that greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are having an effect, but added that science can’t yet predict how quickly they are affecting global warming.

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