DONALD Trump has fired his secretary of state Rex Tillerson, saying they disagreed on the Iran nuclear deal.

The president has chosen CIA director Mike Pompeo to be his new secretary of state.

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Pompeo’s deputy, Gina Haspel, is being nominated to replace him, and if confirmed she would be the CIA’s first female director.

Trump said he and Tillerson “disagreed on things” and cited their differing opinions on the Iran nuclear deal. Iran agreed before Trump took office to curb its nuclear programme in exchange for the easing of economic sanctions.

The president regularly criticises the agreement as a bad deal and has repeatedly threatened to end it.

He spoke yesterday of his desire to break the deal, but noted that Tillerson “felt a little bit differently, so we were not really thinking the same”.

Trump tweeted that Pompeo “will do a fantastic job!” and thanked Tillerson for his service.

He said he made the decision to sack his secretary of state “by myself” and suggested Tillerson will be “much happier now” .

Pompeo is strongly opposed to the Iran nuclear deal, and Trump said they have a “very, very similar thought process”.

A senior State Department official said Trump never explained to Tillerson the reason why he was fired.

The undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, Steve Goldstein, said Tillerson “had every intention of staying” in the job because he felt he was making critical progress in national security.

Two White House officials have said Tillerson was told he was out on Friday, but Goldstein said he “did not speak to the president and is unaware of the reason”. Hours later, Goldstein was himself fired.

Tillerson had returned from a shortened trip to Africa hours before Trump’s announcement, which offered no explanation for the change.

A White House official said Trump wanted to have a new team in place before upcoming talks with North Korea and various trade negotiations.

There had been rumours throughout most of Tillerson’s tenure of friction between Trump and his secretary of state, a former ExxonMobil chief executive.

In October, NBC news reported that Tillerson called the president a “moron”, something he never actually denied.

Trump’s pick to be the first female CIA director is a career spymaster who once ran an agency prison in Thailand where terror suspects were subjected to a harsh interrogation technique.

Haspel, the current deputy CIA director, also helped carry out an order that the agency destroy its waterboarding videos.

That order prompted a lengthy Justice Department investigation that ended without charges.

Haspel, who has extensive overseas experience, briefly ran a secret CIA prison where accused terrorists Abu Zubaydah and Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri were waterboarded in 2002, according to US intelligence officials.