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Iran will 'race' to build nuclear weapons if deal falls apart, says Bill Richardson

  • Bill Richardson, who served as secretary of Energy under President Bill Clinton, warned that it will be harder to contain Iran without a nuclear agreement.
  • On Friday, President Donald Trump said he will decertify the 2015 deal and outlined a new strategy to deal with Iran. However, Trump warned that he will terminate the deal if Congress and U.S. allies do not reach a solution under a plan his administration has put forward.
  • Without a deal, "you give them license to do what we don't want them to do," Richardson said.

If the nuclear agreement with Iran falls apart, Tehran will "race" to build nuclear weapons, warned Bill Richardson, former Energy secretary and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

On Friday, President Donald Trump said he will decertify the 2015 deal and outlined a new strategy to deal with Iran. However, Trump warned that he will terminate the agreement if Congress and U.S. allies do not reach a solution under a plan his administration has put forward.

Richardson, who served as secretary of Energy under President Bill Clinton, warned that it will be harder to contain Iran without the agreement.

"Iran is going to race to build a nuclear capacity, nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles. They're going to continue violating the ballistic missile treaty at the United Nations," he said in an interview with "Power Lunch."

"You give them license to do what we don't want them to do. That's the worry that I have."

What's more, it would send a signal to North Korea that if you reach a nuclear agreement with the United States, the U.S. may pull out, added Richardson, also a former governor of New Mexico.

Fred Kempe, CEO of the Atlantic Council, agrees that it would have been better to recertify the deal. He said that would have allowed the U.S. to be tougher on Iran when it comes to its "misbehavior" and support of terrorism.

"This is going to be a real alliance management task," he said, noting that Russia, China, Germany, France and the United Kingdom are all involved in the deal.

"They will not want to have to redraw this. The Iranians aren't going to want to renegotiate — they'll refuse. And I don't even know if Congress is going to go into this. The hard-liners want to terminate altogether. The Democrats don't want to abandon it. So this could just go nowhere in Congress," Kemp told "Power Lunch."

— CNBC's Tom DiChristopher contributed to this report.