The Conversation

Kerry on Iran Deal: Blame Bush

Secretary of State John Kerry, defending the Geneva agreement on Iran's nuclear program, told ABC News' This Week  that despite the deal's flaws, it was, at least, better than what the Bush administration had done:

In 2003, Iran made an offer to the Bush administration, that they would, in fact, do major things with respect to their program. They had 164 centrifuges. Nobody took--nothing has happened. Therefore here we are in 2013, they have 19,000 centrifuges, and they're closer to a weapon. You cannot sit there and pretend that you're just going to get the thing you want while they continue to move towards the program that they've been chasing.

So, to the extent that the new Iran deal is bad, it is Bush's fault, according to Secretary Kerry.

Here are some facts Kerry conveniently leaves out. First, Iran slowed its nuclear program temporarily after the invasion of Iraq in 2003. That was the context of Iran's "offer." Second, It has almost always responded to the threat of military action, and almost never abided by international agreements. Third, the Bush administration did not just "sit there." It succeeded in pushing UN Security Council resolutions that banned all nuclear enrichment by Iran. That set the stage for the increased international sanctions on Iran, for which the Obama administration takes credit but which it has tried to slow down ever since taking office. If anyone has just "sat there," it has been the Obama administration, which watched as France took the lead in pushing for a slightly tougher deal that would do a little more to protect Western interests and American allies.

In addition to blaming Bush, what Kerry is effectively saying is that there was nothing else the U.S. could have done--that it had been outfoxed by Iran, and had no other option. He is describing the agreement not as a victory but admitting that it is effectively a kind of surrender. In a backhanded way, he is correct.


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