John Kerry defends Iran nuclear deal to US Foreign Affairs Committee

Published July 29th, 2015 - 06:00 GMT
John Kerry said the objective was to "prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon." (AFP/File)
John Kerry said the objective was to "prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon." (AFP/File)

An exasperated Secretary of State John Kerry defended the Iran nuclear agreement Tuesday at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing.

Addressing a committee whose Republican members seem predisposed to reject the deal agreed to by Iran and six world powers last month, in which Iran's nuclear ambitions are curtailed for ten years in exchange for lifting of economic sanctions, Kerry said, "If we walk away, we walk away alone. Our partners are not going to be with us. Instead they will walk away from the tough multilateral sanctions that brought Iran to the negotiating table in the first place. And we will have squandered the best chance that we have to solve this problem through peaceful means." 

The European Union, individual countries comprising the EU and the United Nations have already endorsed the deal. Iran's legislature awaits the results of the decision of the US Congress before it votes.

The debate in Washington Tuesday was sometimes confrontational. Ed Royce, R-Calif., the committee chairman, called the deal "a cash bonanza" for Iran and "a boost to its international standing and a lighted path toward nuclear weapons."

"No we're not," Kerry responded. "Mr. Chairman with all due respect, please, we are presuming no such thing -- there is one objective here: to prevent [Iran] from getting a nuclear weapon."

Earlier in the hearing, Kerry noted, "They [Iran] have mastered the ability to produce significant stockpiles of fissile material. And you have to have that to make a nuclear weapon. We can't bomb away that knowledge any more than you can sanction it away."

Congress has 60 days, beginning July 20, to vote on the agreement, and President Barack Obama has threatened to veto a rejection of the deal. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has said his congressional caucus will "do everything possible to stop" passage of the agreement.

Also Tuesday, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini visited Iran, saying in Tehran she was there to begin the "smooth implementation" of the nuclear accord with Iran.

By Ed Adamczyk

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