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US withdrawal from Iran deal could hurt N. Korea talks: Analysts

SEOUL: US President Donald Trump's withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal is a major setback to US negotiating credibility and will complicate efforts to reach an agreement with Pyongyang over its weapons programme, analysts said.

Mr Trump is set to hold a much-anticipated and unprecedented summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in the coming weeks to negotiate over Pyongyang's arsenal.

Mr Trump on Tuesday pulled Washington out of the 2015 accord with Teheran, pouring scorn on the "disastrous" agreement and describing it an "embarrassment" - although European signatories and the International Atomic Energy Agency have said Iran has complied with its obligations.

Mr Antony Blinken, who was deputy secretary of state under former president Barack Obama, said the White House move "makes getting to yes with North Korea that much more challenging".

"Why would Kim ... believe any commitments President Trump makes when he arbitrarily tears up an agreement with which the other party is complying?" he asked on Twitter.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology political science professor Vipin Narang said: "Today is a stark reminder across the world: Deals are reversible and can have expiration dates, while nuclear weapons can offer lifetime insurance."

Pyongyang has long insisted it needs nuclear weapons to defend itself from a US invasion.

LIBYA MODEL

Weeks ago, US National Security Advisor John Bolton said "We have very much in mind the Libya model", for the denuclearisation of North Korea.

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi agreed to abandon his pursuit of nuclear weapons in the early 2000s, but his government was later overthrown by rebel forces supported by Western air strikes, and he was killed.

Pyongyang regularly cites the fates of Mr Gaddafi as evidence of the need for nuclear arms.

The unilateral nature of Mr Trump's move is also likely to worry officials in Seoul.

The decision was made despite repeated personal pleas by European leaders and cast aside years of careful diplomacy by Britain, China, France, Germany, Iran, Russia and past US administrations.

South Korean President Moon Jae In has been praised for seizing the opportunity presented by the Winter Olympics to broker talks between Mr Trump and Mr Kim.

But the fate of the Iran deal suggests Mr Trump could also dismiss pleas from Seoul - a treaty ally - in future.- AFP

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