Bishop warns US on Iran deal

FOREIGN Affairs Minister Julie Bishop has reportedly questioned Donald Trump's threat to scrap the Iran nuclear deal, saying it could weaken talks with North Korea if the US was seen to go back on its deals.

Speaking to Fairfax Media, Ms Bishop said she discussed the issue with US officials, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, when she was in the US last month after Iran raised the issue of America's credibility to strike international deals if it pulls out of its commitment with Iran.

"Iran was immediately on the front foot saying ... 'Why would North Korea sit down and negotiate with the United States as we, Iran did, if the United States feels that it's able to walk away from an agreement that was embodied in a UN Security Council resolution?'" Ms Bishop told Fairfax Media.

"The United States is aware of the argument that Iran was promoting and the currency that it was gaining. It's a powerful argument."

Ms Bishop said that Sec. Tillerson understood the argument being put forward. He had been one of Mr Trump's Cabinet that recommended the US President send the issue to Congress instead of deciding it himself.

The deal, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was signed under former president Barack Obama and also included Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia. Iran had a range of international economic sanctions lifted in return for stopping production of weapons-grade fissile material for 15 years.

Ms Bishop said her advice to the US would be to keep the Iran deal.

"Don't unpick the JCPOA for the purposes of trying to negotiate a better deal. Leave that one in place ... and pursue other issues via another channel."

Ms Bishop said she believed China would eventually cut access to North Korea's oil supply.

"China knows that the (North Korean) army can only last so long, the country can only operate for so long ... They know that's the ultimate key to it," she said.

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