Washington (CNN)Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul said Tuesday he wishes President Donald Trump had not moved to exit the Iran deal and supported talks between Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
Rand Paul says he'd support talks between Trump and Iran, 'mistake' to exit nuclear deal
"I think that we need more discussion at a higher level with Iran," Paul said on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer."
Trump announced last week he was removing the US from the nuclear agreement, and at a rally following his decision to exit the deal, Trump said he still hoped to make a better agreement.
Paul said Tuesday there's "no evidence" Iran violated the agreement forged during the Obama administration. He added that, while the deal had shortcomings, keeping it in place was preferable to "ripping it up."
"I think that it was a mistake to rip up the agreement, and we should've built on the agreement rather than stepping backwards," Paul said.
Just as he supported talks with North Korea, Paul said he would support negotiations with Rouhani. But the US is further away from an agreeable situation with Iran now that Trump moved to leave the multiparty agreement to provide Iran sanctions relief in exchange for verification that Iran did not work to build nuclear weapons, he said.
"Unfortunately getting out of the Iran agreement, I think we're now starting from scratch with Iran," Paul said, adding he thought there was "potential" to add more to the agreement before Trump's decision to exit unilaterally from the deal.
"But now I think we've gone back to square one," he continued.
Paul said those in the administration who believe exiting the deal would make it more likely to establish a stronger agreement with Iran are wrong.
"I think there's a certain naivete to think, oh, the Iranians are going to be excited about a new deal when we ripped up the old one," Paul said. "No, I think it's going to be a great deal of struggle, and I foresee years and years of trying to figure out how to get better relations with Iran again. I think we've taken a big step backwards."