Secretary of State John Kerry took aim at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has warned against any deal between Iran and a group of world powers known as the P5+1 that would leave the Islamic Republic on the threshold of an atomic bomb.
"Anybody running around right now, jumping in to say, 'Well, we don't like the deal,' or this or that, doesn't know what the deal is," Kerry told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday.
"There is no deal yet. And I caution people to wait and see what these negotiations produce," he said, The New York Times
Netanyahu is scheduled to address Congress about Iran on March 3 in an appearance vehemently opposed by the White House
and some Democratic lawmakers
such as Tennessee Rep. Steve Cohen, who planned to boycott the event.
Cohen is associated with J-Street
, which lobbies Congress against Netanyahu's government.
Kerry said Netanyahu had also been wrong to oppose the 2013 interim accord that halted Iran's nuclear program.
Iranian opposition groups have charged that the regime has secretly continued to pursue atomic weapons, Fox News
The Israeli leader has insisted that the emerging deal would leave Iran poised to "break out" and build atomic bombs when it expired.
"It is my obligation as prime minister to do everything that I can do to prevent this agreement. Therefore, I will go to Washington to address the American Congress, because the American Congress is likely to be the final brake before the agreement between the major powers and Iran," Netanyahu said.
Kerry will be in Switzerland trying to close the deal at the time Netanyahu plans to speak against it to Congress. No members of the administration will meet with Netanyahu, whose speech came at the invitation of House Speaker John Boehner.
One stumbling block faced by the administration in closing any deal with Iran is the duration of restrictions placed on its nuclear program. The U.S. reportedly favors "a double-digit number of years."
Kerry told senators he did not want to go into the details. "We're looking for a deal that will prove over the long term that each pathway to a bomb is closed off," he said, according to the Times.
Netanyahu's critics at home and abroad say that his address to Congress will further damage his already icy relationship with Obama. Others say he should not make the trip so close to the March 17 Israeli elections.
One of Israel's leading Middle East analysts, Ehud Ya'ari, ignited a national discussion Monday night when he called on Netanyahu to invite Labor Party
opposition leader Isaac Herzog to travel to Washington with him in a show of unity against the looming accord.
Herzog, who is running against Netanyahu in the upcoming election, said no, The Times of Israel
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