US Secretary of State John Kerry defended the ongoing nuclear talks with Iran on Tuesday in comments that appeared to be directed at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. As Netanyahu accused the P5+1 group of world powers of giving Iran a green light to maintain the ability to make nuclear weapons, Kerry said that those bad-mouthing the deal are doing so prematurely, before the contours of the deal have been determined. During a tour of the IDF’s Southern Command, Netanyahu said that “the information I have received in recent days reinforces our fears in regard to the emerging deal between world powers and Iran.”
The deal would “allow Iran to become a nuclear threshold state. That is to say, with the agreement of the world powers, Iran will be given license to develop the ability to make a bomb,” Netanyahu charged. The prime minister again defended his decision to address the US Congress next week, saying that Congress “may be the final chance to block a deal between the world powers and Iran.”
Speaking at a congressional hearing on the US State Department budget Tuesday, Kerry said in apparent answer to Netanyahu’s recent warnings about the emerging deal, “I can’t state this more firmly, the policy is Iran will not get a nuclear weapon. Anyone running around right now, jumping to say we don’t like the deal, or this or that, doesn’t know what the deal is. There is no deal yet.”
Talks between Iran and world powers were set to resume next Monday, it was decided after Kerry and Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif held talks in Geneva on Sunday and Monday. The sides are hoping to reach an agreement by March 31 that would answer concerns over military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief for Tehran.
“I caution people to wait and see what these negotiations produce. Since 2013 we have been testing whether or not we can achieve that goal diplomatically. I don’t know yet. But it’s the most effective way to solve the problem and we will prove that over the course of these next weeks and months,” Kerry said Tuesday. “The P5+1 talks have made inroads since the Joint Plan of Action. We’ve halted the progress of Tehran’s nuclear program. We’ve gain unprecedented insight into it and we expect to know soon whether or not Iran is willing to put together an acceptable and verifiable plan,” he added.