Kerry: If US, Others Such As China and Russia Work Properly, ‘We Will Know What Iran Is Doing’

Secretary of State John Kerry stated, “if we do the right job of inspecting, and Israel, and the gulf states, and we and our friends, France, Germany, Britain, China, Russia all are doing the right level of intelligence gathering, believe me, we will know what Iran is doing” on Wednesday’s broadcast of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

Kerry was asked, “Does this deal not encourage Sunni Arab states, especially the Saudis, and the UAE, possibly Egypt, Turkey, to joins the arms race?”

He answered, “I don’t believe so. In fact, Joe, I really believe the fastest way to a genuine arms race in Middle East is not to have this agreement. Because if you don’t have this agreement, Iran has already made clear what its direction is. And that is a direction that is only slowed down or stopped by this agreement. In other words, if there are no inspections, if there’s no regime by which they have to roll back their current program, if there is no insight to their program day to day, if we don’t have the additional 150 inspectors going into Iran, if we don’t have requirements under international law that they have to allow us access to be able to inspect a suspicious site, that is what will provoke each of those nations to say, ‘Uh-oh, these guys are free and moving in a direction we know. Therefore, we have to rush to do it.’ It is precisely the opposite of what former Vice President [Cheney] said. It is because we have this agreement fully implemented, and I emphasize, fully implemented. If this agreement is in place, we will know to a certainty what Iran is doing. And that precludes any necessity for any of those countries to proceed forward, to chase a weapon on their own. That’s why more than 100 nations that have come out, and taken a position on this, say this is a good agreement, and they support it, and only one nation is opposed.”

Kerry was then asked, “what have you seen during these negotiations that would lead you to believe they aren’t going to see the sanctions lifted, take the money, and then walk away from the deal three years from now?” Kerry said, “They’re in very serious trouble if they do that.” He continued, “Let me just explain, first of all, where we are. Before we began negotiations, Iran had already mastered the fuel cycle. Iran had 19,000 centrifuges. Iran had 12,000 kilograms of a stockpile of fissile material, which is enough for 10 to 12 bombs. That’s before we began. Iran is already a threshold nation. This fear that is being express expressed by opponents, oh, my gosh this agreement is going to allow them to become a threshold nation in 15 years, is completely misplaced, because they already are that threshold nation. And the question is, what are we going to do about it today? I was really interested to hear Liz Cheney say two things, one, she invoked Mika’s father, Zbig Brzezinski, as an example of how to do things. Well, Zbig Brzezinski, I’m proud to say, is a strong supporter of this agreement. She secondly said that this sunsets, and even President Obama’s admitted it. No, it never sunsets. There’s no sunset in this agreement. There is a 10-year, extra strong restraint on what they can do. There’s a 15-year restraint on what they can do. There’s a 20-year restraint. There’s a 25-year restraint, which requires all their uranium to be tracked from the mine to the grave. But the additional protocol, and the requirement to live under access and inspection, is for the lifetime of this agreement. So Iran is never free to go move towards a weapon. That is just a misstatement that is repeated again and again and again by the opponents. They are never free to do this. And if we do the right job of inspecting, and Israel, and the gulf states, and we and our friends, France, Germany, Britain, China, Russia all are doing the right level of intelligence gathering, believe me, we will know what Iran is doing.”

Kerry also said, “without an agreement, Mike, money will flow immediately. There are countries chomping at the bit, obviously, to do business. By the way, that’s another misstatement by the opponents. I heard Liz Cheney say that hundreds of billions of dollars would flow. That is not accurate. There is a maximum of about $55 billion, and it’s not our money, it’s their money. And we don’t hold it in American banks. That is why the money will begin to flow, and countries will begin to do business, and the sanctions will fall apart, because people will look at this agreement and say, ‘Wait a minute, the United States has been enforcing the sanctions, but they’re the ones who walked away from the agreement. So why should we live by the sanctions?’ I can’t tell you exactly how many months it would be before Iran — it depends on how many centrifuges they spin, on whether they decide to dig deeper into a mountain, hide their program more, try to avoid consequences. It could take them a little longer under those circumstances. What I can tell you is, if we walk away from this agreement, given the suspicions that the supreme leader had about even entering into negotiations us with us, we will have proven their worst fears, that you can’t deal with the West. You can’t trust the West. Therefore, they have to go do what they have to do to protect themselves. And they will get a weapon, one way or the other, as a result of not accepting this agreement.”

Kerry concluded, “we have a number of restraints, in the agreement itself, and outside of the agreement, that prevent the Iranians, or allegedly prevent the Iranians, it hasn’t been enforced adequately, and that’s something the president is going to double down on, is making certain that the UN resolutions that prohibit the flow of weapons to Hezbollah, for instance, that’s outside of this agreement, and we will enforce that. The flow of weapons to the Iraqi Shia militia, that is a UN resolution separate from this agreement. The flow of weapons to the Houthi in Yemen, that is separate from this agreement. And if those are properly enforced, Iran can be held accountable for its choices in the future. But with respect to the 24 days, I’ve heard so many kind of, you know, off the wall comments about, well they can flush it down the toilet, or it can disappear in that period of time. We are talking about fissile material, nuclear material, enriched material. You cannot make a bomb without enriched material. And fissile material cannot be hidden in a span of 24 days, 24 months, 24 years. This is something that can’t be eradicated, and our Energy Department and intel community has done experiments checking on ways to get rid of it. It’s impossible to do. We are confident that those 24 days are really a process. They’re not an end time — they’re not a — they’re not — it’s not a requirement that it be 24 days. There’s a 24-hour notification, and technically, we could get access within 24 hours after that. But the key here is that our technical people, our experts, are absolutely convinced that nothing can be hidden in that span of time that presents a threat.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett


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