Kerry: Trump can’t immediately undo Obama accomplishments

DAVOS, Switzerland — Outgoing U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he doesn’t believe the incoming Trump administration will be able to quickly reverse what the Obama administration sees as its accomplishments.

“I just don’t believe that,” Kerry said Tuesday at the World Economic Forum in an interview with New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. “I mean, take Iran, for instance. If the United States were to decide suddenly and say, ‘Hey, we’re not going to pursue this,’ I’ll bet you… that our friends and allies negotiating this with us will get together and that Russia, China, Germany, France and Britain will say, ‘You know what? This is a good deal -- we’re going to keep it.’”

That would make the U.S. the “odd-person out,” and do “great injury” to the country, Kerry said in referring to a 2015 pact under which the Iranian government agreed to suspend its nuclear program for at least 10 years and submit to greater international monitoring. But he stopped short of saying that any potential damage would be irreversible.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump vowed to dismantle the Iran deal, though he has offered few details about how he would revise it.

Without naming him directly, Kerry also hit the president-elect for claiming that global trade is hurting the U.S. economy, a major theme of Mr. Trump’s campaign. “Trade is not the most culpable entity for the loss of jobs,” Kerry said, blaming technology for 85 percent of domestic job loss. 

Trump argues that trade, in driving jobs and investment to other countries, has caused great harm to American workers and has promised to pursue policies aimed at helping the “forgotten man and woman.”

While acknowledging the incoming president has tapped into the anger of many Americans, Kerry also questioned whether Trump could find solutions to their financial and employment-related problems that do not also curtail broader economic opportunity in the U.S.

“The United States of America has been more engaged on more issues -- with more crisis simultaneously and with greater outcomes and consequence to that engagement on a global basis -- than at any time in American history,” Kerry said, expressing his desire for continued such engagement under the next administration.  

Reporting for CBS News from Davos, Switzerland: Lulu Chiang, Lauren Hoenemeyer and Gilad Thaler