Secretary of State John Kerry was vigorous in his testimony today before the House Foreign Affairs Committee in defense of an international deal of Iran and rejected more ‘gratuitous’ sanctions upon Iran.
Kerry testified with reason that voting for more sanctions would not be reasonable. Iran stands to lose more than $30 billion in the next six months as a result of sanctions, compared with the $7 billion in sanctions relief it would get under the deal.
He added that his Iranian counterpart, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, had boasted to him that Iran had managed to operate 19,000 centrifuges despite existing sanctions and international rebukes.
‘What do you get by not talking? You get closer to a bomb,’ Kerry warned the lawmakers.
Today was the first clash publicly of the Obama administration with Congress over the historic Iran deal.
Kerry lobbied defiantly for two hour and a half hours before the committee to make it clear that any additional sanctions would send the wrong message to Iran; the U.S. could not be trusted. It would also unsettle U.S. relations with its 5 partners in the pact: Russia, China, England, France and Germany.
Skepticism was the keyword of the Committee and Kerry shared with them that he was skeptical too but the U.N. security committee and Germany were also involved in the inspections at Iranian nuclear sites.
‘Let me be very clear: This is a very delicate diplomatic moment and we have a chance to address peacefully one of the most pressing national security concerns that the world faces today,’ Kerry told the House Foreign Affairs Committee. ‘We’re at a crossroads. We’re at one of those really ‘hing’ points in history. One path could lead to an enduring resolution in the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. The other path could lead to continued hostility and potentially to conflict.’
Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D. said in a statement, which was reported by Politico: ‘The President and Secretary Kerry have made a strong case for a pause in congressional action on new Iran sanctions, so I am inclined to support their request and hold off on committee action for now. I'll have more to say on this at Thursday's Banking Committee hearing.'
Sen. Johnson’s thoughtful reflection in the matter gave hopeful insight in sound and sensible reasoning process to the situation amidst negative comments from other members. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., went further than most of her fellow committee members, declaring the Geneva agreement a ‘bad deal.’ She was considering the negative responses to the deal by Israel.
In response to lawmakers' charges that the Obama administration was naive in trusting Iran, Kerry said the goal was to 'test, but verify,' a play on Ronald Reagan's mantra of 'trust, but verify' during talks with the former Soviet Union.
Kerry reminded the committee that the $7 billion in sanctions would be removed in installments, not all at once. The full measure would be available only after verification that Iran had kept its word to neutralize its higher-enriched uranium stockpiles, stop adding centrifuges, and halt work at Arak, a heavy water reactor that might be used to produce plutonium for a nuclear weapon.
Inspectors from the UN have been allowed into the site.