Kerry: ‘One Way or Another’ Iran Was Responsible for Saudi Attack

Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” former Secretary of State John Kerry said Iran was “one way or the other” responsible for attacks on Saudi oil fields.

Partial transcript as follows:

MARGARET BRENNAN: The United States is not required to defend Saudi Arabia in the wake of this attack, but does the U.S. look weak if it doesn’t militarily respond?

KERRY: Not if we do other things that show strength and confidence in a genuine strategy and policy, and that’s what’s really lacking here I think. You’ve got to-  you’ve got to go back to the beginning here. We had an agreement. We have an agreement, that the rest of the world supports–

BRENNAN: The nuclear deal.

KERRY: –the nuclear agreement. And I heard Secretary Pompeo say well we want to get into a place where we know they can’t have a nuclear weapon. Well we’re there. We were there. And France, Germany, Britain, China, Russia, all still support a multilateral agreement that was a model of multilateral diplomacy. We came together, the world welcomed this, the United Nations security council ratified it, embraced it. And that still is there. Along comes President Trump and he pulls out. He broke the agreement.

BRENNAN: You think pulling out–

KERRY: He is the one well- what–

BRENNAN: –caused this escalation?

KERRY: The escalation is the absolutely foreseeable and it was foreseen that this is what would happen. Why do I say that? Because we were ridiculed for saying that the alternative to what we were trying to do in making the agreement was war, was conflict. I mean I- I personally had leaders in the Middle East telling me you’ve got to bomb Iran. We had a prime minister of Israel come to America and ask for a green light to bomb. So, we were averting war. And when we signed the agreement in- in Vienna, the initial agreement, we all agreed that this was a way to avoid a war and open up a channel of communicating, and diplomacy to be able to deal with legitimate other issues that are concerned with Iran. We’re concerned about their support for Hezbollah. We’re concerned about their missiles. We’re concerned about Yemen. We’re concerned about interference in other countries. But what is the best way to deal with that, Margaret? That’s the question–

BRENNAN: But can the nuclear deal be salvaged now–

KERRY: –and by breaking this–

BRENNAN: given that Iran is already starting—

KERRY: Of course, of course it could be salvaged.

BRENNAN: –to push the limits and cheat here?

KERRY: Well, they- I think-

BRENNAN: And there are sunset clauses.

KERRY: Yes they are. Look, I think and- and you’ve got to be really clear and honest about what’s happening here. I believe Iran, one way or the other, was behind the attack that took place. That to me is obvious. And it’s also obvious that it’s got to be denied. And it will be denied right now because they need the plausible deniability. But the president I think is absolutely is actually correct to be evaluating sort of not being rushed into a corner to go to war. That is what we shouldn’t do. But you’ve also got to look at what happened afterwards, after we pulled out. We basically declared economic war—

BRENNAN: Right.

KERRY: –on Iran. We have been pressuring them. Maximum pressure. And it was entirely foreseeable that that would result in further conflict. So we’re seeing the unfolding of really a bankruptcy of approach.

BRENNAN: Okay.

KERRY: The international community can come together now. I think there is a way to avert war —

BRENNAN: And that’s going to be one of the pushes this week–

KERRY: –without showing weakness.

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN

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