Tags: Iran | john kerry | iran | nuclear | deal

Kerry: Nothing in Iran Deal Is Based on Trust

Kerry: Nothing in Iran Deal Is Based on Trust
Secretary of State John Kerry, left, speaks with Hossein Fereydoun, center, the brother of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. (REUTERS/US State Department/Handout)

By    |   Friday, 17 July 2015 10:54 AM

Nothing in the agreement reached with Iran this week on its nuclear capabilities is based on trust, Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday, but instead, is "based on intrusive inspections, tracking and monitoring."

"We will have tracking of their mining of any uranium whatsoever in Iran for 25 years from the mine to the mill to the yellow cake, to the gas, to the centrifuge and to the waste," Kerry told MSNBC's "Morning Joe program.

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"We have unprecedented ability to see what they are doing. And our intelligence community tells us that for them to have a covert path, they would have to have an entire fuel cycle that is covert and that is impossible to do so with the regime that we have put together."

And while Kerry is grateful that the agreement was eventually reached, he admitted Friday that there were "moments of great pessimism" about whether that would happen.

"On the Sunday before we got the deal, I would say about a week out, I had a very sober and almost depressing conversation with my counterpart," Kerry said. "We began the day with a very serious evaluation of whether or not it was doable. I made it crystal clear if thing did not change we were going to go home. We were going to have to wrap it up."

But at the end, "we accomplished the fundamental goal the president set, which is to shut off each of the pathways to a nuclear weapon," said Kerry. "So I believe without any doubt whatsoever, and I spent 29 years in the Senate. I was on the Arms Control observer group. I dealt with all the debates of the starting agreement, the annex missile and so forth. This agreement makes the region safer, makes Israel safer, makes the United States safer, makes the world safer."

After the agreement was announced, one of the largest points of argument was that Iran would have a 24-day lead period before inspectors went on site.

Kerry, though, said Friday that "our intelligence community is completely comfortable that 24 days is not enough time for them to be able to evade our technical means, our capacity to observe, our ability to be able to know what is happening."

He explained that Iran has been "deathly afraid" of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) having access to sites even after 10 or 15 years because uranium of any kind is "traceable and very, very hard to get rid of."

Further, Kerry said, the 24-day time period is "an outside period" and inspections can actually happen in just days or even immediately, "and the Iranians have every reason to do it faster. The longer it takes and the more they drag, the more suspicion there would be."

The monitoring systems will also include television cameras and live tracking of Iran's centrifuge production for 20 years, he said.

In addition, the focus has been on a 10-year-period, said Kerry, but the fact is, there is a research and development declared path Iran needs to file, along with a protocol that goes beyond 10 years.

"There is a restraint on the size of their stockpile at 300 kilograms for 15 years," Kerry said. "They are only allowed to enrich up to 3.67 percent for three years, excuse me, for 15 years. You cannot make a nuclear weapon with those restraints."

But moving forward, Kerry insisted that it's vital for Congress to agree to the Iran pact to keep the United States safe.

"If the United States Congress says no to this, the sanctions are gone," said Kerry. "Our inspections are gone. Our knowledge of what they're doing is gone. Our support from the international community will be gone and Iran is free to go out and do what they want and we'll have no recourse and if we wanted to take action, we will have lost the global community. There is no question to me that no one is offering a viable alternative to what we have put forward."

And Kerry believes that the alternative to the agreement would have been armed conflict.

"If we are not able to hold on to this, then the Iranians will say, well, the United States can't be trusted," said Kerry. "[That] you can't negotiate with the United States. And they will feel free to go forward with the program."

"This is a choice between diplomatic solution and war and military action," he continued. "Before you send people off to put their lives on the line, you need to exhaust all the remedies available to you ... I believe that is an imperative of diplomacy and public life and I vowed when I came back and opposed the war that if I ever had an opportunity to be in a position of responsibility, I would fight for that principle."

Kerry also denied claims that discussions never happened about the four Americans being held prisoner in Iran.

"There was not a meeting that took place, not one meeting that took place, believe me, that's not an exaggeration, where we did not raise the issue of our American citizens being held," said Kerry. "It was the last conversation I had with the foreign minister right before we went out publicly. I talked to him the last time about that. We remain very, very hopeful that Iran will make a decision to do the right thing and to return those citizens to the United States."

The heart of the deal, Kerry said, is that the United States wanted to ensure Iran did not have a nuclear weapon, and Iran wanted sanctions relief.

But even after 15 or 20 years, the restraints against Iran won't stop, and the ability is there to return sanctions if Iran breaches the agreement.

"We have the ability always to bring back our own sanctions and we have multiple other ways of addressing their behavior," said Kerry. "For instance, even without the arms, but if the arms embargo didn't stay, they are still not allowed to send arms under a separate resolution of the U.N. We can enforce it."

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Nothing in the agreement reached with Iran this week on its nuclear capabilities is based on trust, Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday, but instead, is "based on intrusive inspections, tracking and monitoring."
john kerry, iran, nuclear, deal
Friday, 17 July 2015 10:54 AM
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