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Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson said during his Senate confirmation hearing that the U.S. would be better off sticking with the Paris agreement to tackle climate change. His position stands in contrast to President-elect Donald Trump’s stated opposition to the agreement and his intention to break away from the agreement when he enters office.
Climate change was among the topics on which a 21-senator panel grilled Tillerson yesterday, and was also one of the topics on which his stance differed from that of Trump. Also among these were nuclear proliferation, and to a certain extent, Iran.
Asked to comment on Trump statements that he would not object if U.S. allies such as Japan, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia obtained nuclear weapons, Tillerson said that hardly anyone would advocate the global proliferation of nuclear weapons.
As for the Iran deal that several Western governments closed with Iran last year to deter the country from building its own nuclear weapons, Tillerson was wary in his approach, telling the Foreign Relations Committee he would recommend “a full review” of the deal.
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Tillerson was also measured in his responses to questions concerning Russia and bilateral relations. Urged by Republican senator – and former Trump rival for the Republican presidential nomination – Marco Rubio to agree that Russia’s President Putin was a war criminal because of Russia’s involvement in Syria, Tillerson declined, saying these were “serious charges to make,” adding that he needed more information before reaching that determination.
Back to climate change and more specifically Exxon’s role in it and its alleged attempt to hide knowledge about the effect of human activity on climate, Tillerson referred the panel to Exxon itself. Asked whether he was unwilling to answer or rather lacking the knowledge that would allow him to do so, Tillerson responded with “A little of both.”
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.