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Kerry: Rejecting deal would be “screwing” the ayatollah


Kerry asserts here that the deal makes it “physically impossible” for Iran to make a nuclear bomb. If everything Kerry says in this interview were true, it is hard to see why the Israelis or the Republicans would have the slightest objection to the deal. Their reading of the agreement with Iran differs sharply from his. It would be wisest to hope he is correct by preparing as if he isn’t.

This Administration, however, is not going to do that. Note also his breezy assertion that we have “huge mechanisms by which we can push back and make the counter-difference” if Iran begins to use the money it receives from sanctions relief to arm Assad (which may not be a bad thing, given the Islamic State) and Hizballah. Those “huge mechanisms” haven’t made any significant headway against the Islamic State.

And as for “screwing” the ayatollah, and the idea that he will never negotiate again if these negotiations had failed, is based on the assumption that any deal with Iran is better than none. Unproven, at best.

“Kerry Warns Congress About Risk of ‘Screwing’ the Ayatollah,” by Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic, August 5, 2015 (thanks to Blazing Cat Fur):

…Goldberg: Do you believe that Iranian leaders sincerely seek the elimination of the Jewish state?

Kerry: I think they have a fundamental ideological confrontation with Israel at this particular moment. Whether or not that translates into active steps to, quote, “Wipe it,” you know…

Goldberg: Wipe it off the map.

Kerry: I don’t know the answer to that. I haven’t seen anything that says to me—they’ve got 80,000 rockets in Hezbollah pointed at Israel, and any number of choices could have been made. They didn’t make the bomb when they had enough material for 10 to 12. They’ve signed on to an agreement where they say they’ll never try and make one and we have a mechanism in place where we can prove that. So I don’t want to get locked into that debate. I think it’s a waste of time here.

I operate on the presumption that Iran is a fundamental danger, that they are engaged in negative activities throughout the region, that they’re destabilizing places, and that they consider Israel a fundamental enemy at this moment in time. Everything we have done here, Jeff, is not to overlook anything or to diminish any of that; it is to build a bulwark, build an antidote. If what Bibi says is true, that they are really plotting this destruction, then having the mechanism to get rid of nuclear weapons is a prima facie first place to start, and you’re better off eliminating the nuclear weapon if that’s their plan. Then we can deal with the other things.

Goldberg: Let me posit this analysis: that the deal is actually good, but then it becomes bad 10 years down the road. As a confidence-building measure, you’ve curtailed their ability to get to a bomb, but 10 or 15 years down the road, their breakout time shrinks back down to a month or two.

Kerry: Jeff, I fundamentally, absolutely disagree with this premise. It’s not true; it’s provable that it’s not true. And close analysis of this agreement completely contradicts the notion that there is a 15-year cutoff, for several different reasons. Reason number one: We have a 20-year televised insight into their centrifuge production. In other words, we are watching their centrifuge production with live television, taping the whole deal, 24-7 for 20 years. But even more important, and much more penetrating, much more conclusive, we have 25 years during which all uranium production—from mine to mill to yellowcake to gas to waste—is tracked and traced. The intelligence community will tell you it is not possible for them to have a complete, covert, separate fuel cycle. You can’t do the whole cycle; you can’t do the mining and milling covertly. So it’s not 15, it’s 25, and it’s not even just 25. I went back and reread the Additional Protocol the other day, just to make sure I was accurate—Marie, could you go get me my white book, it’s on the floor underneath the desk with all the tabs.

[Harf goes to Kerry’s study, off his main office.]

Goldberg: Marie, could you get the maps of the West Bank while you’re there?

Harf: Haha, very funny.

Kerry: [Pauses] Doable. But not unless somebody wants to do it….

Goldberg: In your mind, they couldn’t possibly move to 90 percent [enrichment] without every bell—

Kerry: Physically impossible. And therefore, when you add the Additional Protocol with 25 years of uranium tracking, we’re more than confident that this is something unusual that doesn’t exist in any other agreement in the world. They will not be able to get a bomb.

Goldberg: There’s a political component to what you’ve been—

Kerry: There is a big political component in America.

Goldberg: So let me ask you, in your mind, how much of this is about Jewish fear, and how much of this is about the exploitation of Jewish fear?

Kerry: I can’t answer that. That’s getting analytical, and my attitude is that I take the fear seriously. The fear is real, based on history—based on 2,000-plus years. I mean, I am extremely sympathetic to the fear that people feel, and I understand the historical argument. The reason I disagree with it is that we don’t give up any option whatsoever—and I know that a president of the United States, if you tell the president that if you don’t do something in the next three weeks Iran is going to get a bomb, the president is going to do what we have to do, and everybody in Congress will support it.


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