November 24th, 2013
09:20 AM ET
1 year ago

Kerry: Israel is safer under new deal

Updated 10:25 a.m. ET, 11/24/14

(CNN) – Secretary of State John Kerry insisted Sunday that the interim agreement to halt Iran’s nuclear program makes Israel safer - though Israel says the agreement has exactly the opposite effect.

“We believe very strongly that because the Iranian nuclear program is actually set backwards and is actually locked into place in critical places, that that is better for Israel than if you were just continuing to go down the road and they rush towards a nuclear weapon,” Kerry said in an interview that aired Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” - just hours after world powers and Iran reached the historic agreement.

Nuclear deal with Iran breaks 3-decade gridlock

Kerry cautioned that strong verification tactics will be needed in order to hold Iran accountable to the deal.

“When you're dealing with nuclear weapons, it's not an issue of trust,” Kerry said. “Verification is the key.”

20 questions about the Iran nuclear deal: What it says, what's at stake, what's next

The initial six-month deal slows Iran’s nuclear development program in exchange for lifting some sanctions, while a more formal agreement is worked out.

More specifically, Iran will be required to dilute its stockpile of uranium that had been enriched to 20%. Its stockpiles should be diluted below 5%, the level needed for nuclear power plants. Iran will also have to cut back on constructing new centrifuges and enrichment facilities, and freeze essential work on its heavy-water reactor under development at Arak.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters that the agreement is far from acceptable, citing the easing of sanctions as major point of contention.

"What was concluded in Geneva last night is not a historic agreement, it's a historic mistake," Netanyahu said. "It's not made the world a safer place. Like the agreement with North Korea in 2005, this agreement has made the world a much more dangerous place."

Israeli PM Netanyahu: Iran nuclear deal 'historic mistake'

But Kerry argued the sanctions part of the agreement is hardly a boost for Iran. The deal says that the U.S. will provide $6 billion to $7 billion in sanction relief — just a drop in the bucket compared to the roughly $100 billion in foreign exchange holdings that are inaccessible to Iran because of sanctions, the White House says.

“The basic architecture of the sanctions is staying in place. There is very little relief. We are convinced over the next few months, we will really be able to put to the test what Iran's intentions are,” Kerry told CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley.

White House issues synopsis on Iran nuclear deal

In a separate interview with ABC's "This Week," Kerry acknowledged that the agreement doesn't dismantle Iran's nuclear program. But he said that strategy is "the next step" in negotiations. He also hit back against criticism that the agreement failed to completely tear down Iran's nuclear program.

"While we go through these next six months, we will be negotiating the dismantling," he said. "But you can't always start where you want to wind up."

"You cannot sit there and pretend that you're just going to get the thing you want, while they (Iran) continue to move towards the program that they've been chasing," he said.

Asked whether the agreement signals a new relationship between the U.S. and Iran, Kerry said it marks a step forward, but Iran still has a long way to go.

"We have no illusions. This is not going to change in one fell swoop overnight. We have a long building process to engage in here. We need to put to test Iran's words and intentions without any cobwebs, without any false assumptions, without any illusions. This is a hard road," he said. And, he added, "We will stand by Israel 100%."

Several Republican lawmakers in Congress have already come out against the agreement, siding with Israel. But Kerry said on ABC he feels confident "Congress will recognize that this deal actually has a great deal of benefit in it."

"And of course, (Obama) always has every other option available to him as commander in chief," Kerry said, answering a question about whether the President would veto a congressional vote for new sanctions or whether he would bypass Congress altogether.

- CNN’s Faith Karimi contributed to this report.

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.


Filed under: Iran • Israel • John Kerry • TV-State of the Union
soundoff (51 Responses)
  1. Get Real

    SOS Kerry, DON'T break your arm patting yourself on the back.

    November 24, 2013 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  2. Preph

    Israel is safer. You can keep your insurance policy, etc., etc.. Who can believe a word these clowns say.
    Last week the leader of Iran reiterates the need to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. This week Obama becomes the sham wow salesman advocating getting the mullahs more moolah so they can stay in power.
    The blood of carnage to follow is on these clowns hands.

    November 24, 2013 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  3. g

    why don,t they just put the Isreal flag in Washington and do away with the American flag

    November 24, 2013 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  4. Tampa Tim

    A bagger writes, "The blood of carnage to follow is on these clowns hands."

    We have seen the blood and carnage wreaked upon the American people by an unknowing conservative in the White House. 3000 killed on 9-11, 45 thousand wounded Americans in unnecessary wars, 4500 American troops unnecessarily killed, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians killed for no reason. To a wingnut that is no big deal?

    November 24, 2013 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  5. Tampa Tim

    And Lindsay says, "Can we have a war, can we, can we?"

    November 24, 2013 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  6. Tampa Tim

    Quite an accomplishment for the Obama Administration. It will definitely give the republican party of war something to cry about.

    November 24, 2013 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  7. Tampa Tim

    Obama should land on an aircraft carrier and declare, "Mission Accomplished," like our former expert on political theater did.

    November 24, 2013 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  8. Rick McDaniel

    That is making something out of nothing, as a statement.

    This deal does nothing to make Israel safer. Nor does it make Obamaland safer, either.

    November 24, 2013 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  9. Randy, San Francisco

    There are risks but the consequences of not making any deal may be far worst.

    November 24, 2013 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  10. Rick McDaniel

    That would be an outrageous lie.

    November 24, 2013 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  11. Jon

    Preph, are you saying Israel would be safer if Iran had agreed to do nothing? What makes Israel safer is reduction of Iran's nuclear weapons capabilities and and verification of that. Sanctions does nothing to make Israel safer.

    November 24, 2013 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  12. RandySandberg

    Mr. Kerry-You are either naive or a fool. We should call you Neville Chamberlain.

    November 24, 2013 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  13. meki60

    Kerry does not know anything about anything

    November 24, 2013 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  14. Serge Crespy

    Israel safer?... A formidable,U.S Base / Nuclear Missile Shield located in the West Bank would no-doubt maintain peace throughout the Middle East..

    November 24, 2013 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  15. SteveAR

    Kerry, who has actively worked against Israel, somehow knows this "deal" (abject surrender) will make Israel safer. Why don't I have any warm and fuzzies about what Kept Man Kerry has to say, hmmm?

    November 24, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  16. Daniel

    It really shouldn't matter if Israel is safer or not, only if we are.

    November 24, 2013 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  17. chet

    Kerry has again sold someone down the river – this time it is beyond Hanoi Jane and his actions!

    November 24, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  18. Rick McDaniel

    Iran's intentions are pretty clear, they intend to spread Islam throughout the world.......by force.

    November 24, 2013 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  19. Skorpio

    MUSLIM PRIESTS / CLERICS just like Rouhani and the Ayatollahs are in charge of any weapon, atomic bombs, toxic gases negotiation. They control the Iranian Army, the Presidency and top cabinet positions. Iran exert threats, intimidation, war, coercion, punishments to impose their guidelines. It seems is NO DIFFERENT from the movies portray of the ANTICHRIST.

    November 24, 2013 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  20. nuclear mike

    Remember...Kerry said these words when the first nuclear flash & thunder fill the skies in the Middle east...

    November 24, 2013 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  21. Rick McDaniel

    The lies from this regime just keep on coming this morning. They are seeking lots of political gain from NOTHING, to draw attention away from their failed health care program.

    November 24, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  22. Stuffit

    This idiotic agreement will unfortunately cost the lives of millions. How stupid and corrupt is the Obama administration? Combine a myopic egomaniac like Kerry with a stupid narcissist like Obozo and you get a catastrphe worse than both world wars combined. A and yet the biased liberal press will still report how god like the Kenyan village idiot is.

    November 24, 2013 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  23. Tampa Tim

    It looks like some right wingnuts are upset that the Obama Administration has temporarily put the republican war with Iran on hold. They want a war now, not tomorrow.

    November 24, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  24. tom

    How on God's earth did we get into this situation where our foreign policy is dictated to us or must be approved by Israel?

    Netanyahu will never be happy until we bow to his Lakud policies and invade every country that Israel considers a threat. They have nukes so why is anyone surprised that other countries want them too.

    As for those of you who are complaining about this and insulting Obama, I will remind you that Bush/Cheney had 8 years to solve this problem and they did not solve it. I guess you prefer another war to spend trillions. Better we spend all our budget in protecting Israel then one dime for a homeless person on the streets of American. How pathetic some of you are.

    November 24, 2013 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  25. Justin Demoude

    I'm won't worry until one of these "clowns" steps into the "Holy of Holies" and declares himself God. When that happens then its time to worry, if it ever happens that is.

    November 24, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
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