John Kerry: Ending Iran nuclear deal would worsen North Korea situation

GENEVA, Oct 20 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump risks driving Iran towards nuclear proliferation and worsening a standoff with North Korea if Washington ends a nuclear deal with Tehran, former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said late on Thursday.

Kerry, who negotiated the 2015 deal between Iran and world powers, was speaking a week after Trump refused to certify that Tehran was in compliance with it, amid growing tensions with Pyongyang over its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

"If you want to negotiate with (North Korean leader) Kim Jong Un, and your goal is to avoid war and try to be able to have a diplomatic resolution, the worst thing you can do is first threaten to destroy his country in the United Nations," Kerry said.

RELATED: Satellite image of the nuclear test site in North Korea

26 PHOTOS
Satellite images of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in North Korea
See Gallery
Satellite images of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in North Korea
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - APRIL 2, 2017. Figure 1. Activity continues at the North Portal. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - APRIL 2, 2017. Figure 2. Possible new dumping observed at the North Portal spoil pile. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - APRIL 2, 2017. Figure 3. Probable personnel in formation or equipment in rows at the Main Administrative Area. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - MARCH 30, 2017. Figure 1. No vehicles or trailers remain around the North Portal but well-worn paths are observed. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - MARCH 30, 2017. Figure 2. No new dumping of material on the North Portal spoil pile. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - MARCH 30, 2017. Figure 3. Small collection of crates or trailers seen in previous imagery has been removed. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - MARCH 28, 2017. Figure 3B. Formations seen in the Main Administrative Area, similar to what was seen in lead up to 2013 nuclear test. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - MARCH 28, 2017. Figure 2. Material dumped at the North Portal tailings pile. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - JANUARY 4, 2013. Figure 3A. Formations seen in the Main Administrative Area in lead up to 2013 nuclear test. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - MARCH 28, 2017. Figure 1. Continued activity at the North Portal. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - MARCH 25, 2017. Figure 1. Probable cabling and water drainage seen at the North Portal. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - OCTOBER 19th, 2016: Figure 6: Excavation continued underground in the North Portal area suggesting more tests to come in the same tunnel complex directly under Mt. Mantap. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - JANUARY 5th, 2017: Figure 7: The North Portal spoil pile continued to expand into 2017, becoming increasingly broader. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - JANUARY 22nd, 2017: Figure 8: Late January 2017 imagery showing new spoil on top of recent snow. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - OCTOBER 19th, 2016: Figure 9. A close-up of the North Portal spoil pile as it appeared in late October 2016. The unstable spoil can sometimes lead to accidents, as in this case of toppled rail cars downslope. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 12th, 2017: Figure 10. A close-up of the North Portal spoil pile from February 2017 shows that accumulations had begun move westward with a broadening of the top and bottom west side of the pile. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - MARCH 7th, 2017: Figure 1. DigitalGlobe imagery showing large shipping container or crate seen at the North Portal. Date: March 7, 2017. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - MARCH 7th, 2017: Figure 2. DigitalGlobe imagery showing no changes to pattern and texture of tailings (spoil) pile at the North Portal. Date: March 7, 2017. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - MARCH 7th, 2017: Figure 3. DigitalGlobe imagery showing a small vehicle present at the West Portal. Date: March 7, 2017. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - MARCH 7th, 2017: Figure 4. DigitalGlobe imagery showing a truck present in the southern courtyard of the Main Administrative Area. Date: March 7, 2017. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - MARCH 7th, 2017: Figure 5. DigitalGlobe imagery showing a truck present at the sites Command Center. Date: March 7, 2017. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - MARCH 7th, 2017: Figure 6. DigitalGlobe imagery showing snow cleared at guard barrack and security checkpoint. Date: March 7, 2017. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - OCTOBER 24, 2016: Figure 2. No activity seen at the Sohae launch pad. Date: October 24, 2016. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - OCTOBER 24, 2016: Figure 3. Environmental shed remains adjacent to the vertical engine test stand. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
PUNGGYE-RI NUCLEAR TEST SITE, NORTH KOREA - OCTOBER 29, 2016: Figure 1C. Increased activity around the North Portal throughout October. Date: October 29, 2016. (Photo DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

He was speaking in a private lecture delivered at Geneva's Graduate Institute.

"And secondly, screw around with the deal that has already been made because the message is, don't make a deal with the United States, they won't keep their word," he said.

The nuclear deal places Iran under tough restraints, including inspections, round-the-clock surveillance and tracking every ounce of uranium produced, Kerry said. "We would notice an uptick in their enrichment, like that," he said, snapping his fingers.

"And nobody that I know of with common sense can understand what the virtue is in accelerating a confrontation with the possibility that they might decide they want to break out and make it (a nuclear bomb) now instead of 10 or 15 or 25 years from now."

Kerry, a former Senator who headed the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told Swiss media that Trump's leaving the Iranian deal's fate to Congress was "very dangerous" and opened the door to "party politics".

Congress cannot unilaterally renegotiate a multilateral accord, the Geneva daily Le Temps quoted him as saying. "It is possible that Congress would make an unreasonable decision that would put Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in a very complicated political situation that could force him to retaliate. It's a slippery slope."

Khamenei said on Wednesday that Tehran would stick to its accord as long as the other signatories respected it, but would "shred" the deal if Washington pulled out, state TV reported.

RELATED: A look at missile testing in Iran

7 PHOTOS
Ballistic missile testing in Iran
See Gallery
Ballistic missile testing in Iran

A ballistic missile is launched and tested in an undisclosed location, Iran, March 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Mahmood Hosseini/TIMA)

A ballistic missile is launched and tested in an undisclosed location, Iran, March 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Mahmood Hosseini/TIMA)

A ballistic missile is launched and tested in an undisclosed location, Iran, March 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Mahmood Hosseini/TIMA)

A ballistic missile is launched and tested in an undisclosed location, Iran, March 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Mahmood Hosseini/TIMA)

An undated handout picture shows the Iranian supersonic ballistic missile, Persian Gulf, during a war-game in an unknown location in Iran. The Arabic script reads, "Ya Aliyebn-Abitaleb", a religious title for Imam Ali, the first Imam of Shi'ite Muslims.

(REUTERS/Fars News/Handout)

An undated handout picture shows the Iranian supersonic ballistic missile, Persian Gulf, launching during a war-game in an unknown location in Iran.

(REUTERS/Fars News/Handout)

HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

If Iran violated the accord, U.N. sanctions would snap back into place, Kerry told the audience. "Moreover, at that point in time folks, we have a year of break-up. We have all the time that we need in the world to be able to bomb their facilities into submission."

Ending the deal could lead to Iran hiding fissile production facilities "deep in a mountain where we have no insight".

"So the scenario that Trump opens up by saying 'let's get rid of the deal' is actually proliferation, far more damaging and dangerous," Kerry said.

(Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and John Stonestreet)

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.