U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on July 23 in a continued push for members of Congress to support the Iran nuclear agreement which Kerry was heavily involved in negotiating.
Testifying with Kerry were Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, who also helped negotiate the deal, and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, CBS News reported. The Obama administration has had a tough time selling the deal to the American public and lawmakers, with the latter publicly criticizing the deal for its perceived leniency towards Iran’s nuclear energy program and the removal of economic sanctions.
“We set out to dismantle their ability to be able to build a nuclear weapon, and we’ve achieved that,” Kerry said to the committee in his opening statement.
“Let me underscore, the alternative to the deal we’ve reached isn’t what we’re seeing ads for on TV," he added. "The alternative to the deal we’ve reached isn’t a better deal – some sort of unicorn arrangement involving Iran’s complete capitulation. That’s a fantasy – plain and simple, and our own intelligence community will tell you that.
The GOP remains skeptical about the deal, with Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee suggesting that Kerry got “fleeced” by the Iranians.
“What I think you’ve actually done in these negotiations is codify a perfectly aligned pathway for Iran to get a nuclear weapon just by abiding by this agreement. I look at the things they need to do, the way it’s laid out, and I don’t think you could more perfectly lay it out. I believe you’ve been fleeced,” Corker told Kerry.
Corker expressed concerns that many Republicans and some Democrats have about the finalized deal. A main issue is the 24 day period that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) must give Iran before the IAEA inspects all of the nation’s nuclear energy facilities.
Republican Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho also agreed with Corker’s statements and told Sec. Kerry that he was “bamboozled” by Iranian negotiators.
Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey chastised Kerry for interrupting him during questioning, saying, “I have limited time. You’ve been with the Iranians for two years. I have seven minutes.”
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