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.
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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.”
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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.
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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.
Daniel, I'm in full agreement with you that US government should pursue its interests above all. But I believe also that Prime Minister Netanyahu should pursue his country's interests too, which might not be the same as that of the US.
hey repubs why wont you guys give peace a chance, all you war mongering repubs, take a break this president haven't failed yet. i am going to start calling you guys the predictor party, the only problem is, not one of your end of days prediction had came through, i thought you guys said obamacare would stop the breath of this country, all i see is our country breathing and breathing and breathing. i would hope you guys learn your lesson and come out of the predicting arena, because you guys are making forecasters, look real bad.
Whose head do we get when the Iranians, despite your Chamberlanesque agreement, conduct their first nuclear weapon test?
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.
Hey Rick , nobody has yet died or been blown up over the Affordable Healthcare Act .
And maybe we can avoid a conflict with Iran , you don't give the majority of the Iranians credit for being civilized , educated compassionate people .
What is with you neocons , you guys make Dr Strangelove look like a liberal .
Of course, Kerry, Jane Fonda's poster-boy of the 70's, would appease ala Nevile Chamberlain, so WW3 looms! Iran is the Nazi power of Today. They were on The Ropes, but we blinked! They won, not US.
Obama years: mayheim at US airports, malls, even our homes. Not so under Bush!
Remember that as 2014 looms!
This is another lie from a guy who is trying to convince us of a nonexistent good deal. This time there will be no need for concentration camps and crematoriums. The whole Middle East will be up in flames, thanks to the incompetent duet of Obama and Kerry.
"you can keep your insurance policy" you can keep your doctor" "Libya was the result of a video" "we did not know anything about Libya" "I PROMISE, IT IS IN THE MAIL". and the best one" obama, we in iran promise we will do whatever you want us to do so release our money so we can use it to blow up you and Israel". Nothing new under the sun, Germany's top dog was in England telling everyone that they would not attack.
Well here we go again....the minnions following the orders of a President that was partially raised as a Muslim in
Indonesia...I wonder where his loyalties lie?? **LOL**
Hey King, Its not the REAL AMERICA any more....In case you haven't noticed we are trying to be the Venezuela of the Northern Hemisphere...
Sure we need a better and safe world.settle your grudges on the table but not with arms
OlegO – That's exactly the point. Prime Minister Netanyahu's main goal is Israel not being wiped out by its neighbors. Problem is that Prime Minister Netanyahu don't believe that any other solution than confrontation is the way to achieve it. Why should the USA keep signing down on warmongers' policies and not try to give peace a chance?
The details of the agreement/deal or whatever it is are not exactly clear as of now, so why not wait to see if it is indeed a reasonable deal (or not) before condening it?
"Kerry cautioned that strong verification tactics will be needed in order to hold Iran accountable to the deal." This is just another stall tactic for Iran. They lie about everything.
Why not let Israel speak for itself. Lamebrain. Oh, wait. They did say something......and it was about this being a bad deal. Typical Liberal telling others they know what is best for them.
I was wondering if Reza, CNN's reporter (broadcasting from Iran) statements are true, that Iran does "not" mean it will make a nuclear weapon, just lying by saying they will produce one to "pacify their citizens"? What madness is this? Iran should be chastized from condeming Israel is the worst possible terms...believe Iran??
As Chamberlin ,prime minister of England in 1930's, sign a peace agreement with Hitler, so is Kerry with Iran. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
We should seek by all means in our power to avoid war, by analyzing possible causes, by trying to remove them, by discussion in a spirit of collaboration and good will. – Neville Chamberlain
6 months, for Pete's sake. Why don't you naysayers just hold your breath and see how it goes? If you are right and Iran reneges, there's time to fix their wagon. If you are wrong and this sets up even better conditions further down the road, won't you feel foolish? I'd think about that now if I wore your shoes.
Mr. Kerry, lead circus clown, it is not your call to say Israel is safer! you are a funny man.
Pray for Peace...
I think the right wingnuts forget how the Bush Doctrine worked out for us.
By virtue of this agreement, Israel indeed would begin entering into a new era of being protected by these countries which have taken the initiative to negotiate with Iran a limited use of their nuclear capabilities, based on trust-but-verify methods. But, to make this work holistically, Israel should show a more flexible posture in giving credit to the virtues that the objectives of the agreement represent. Here apply the wise words of JFK : ´´ you cannot negotiate with people that say what´s mine is mine, and what´s yours is negotiable´´. this is a critical time when timing in a change in posture becomes of the essence.
You are so full of BS it's not even funny.
You and Obama have a very short memory if you think this deal will happen with Iran.
What you have done with Obama is continued this Once Great Country in a downward spiral the we will never be able to come back.
Chamberlain this and Chamberlain that...
And what are the similarities with the situation Neville Chamberlain faced?
Back then neither France nor the UK were trully prepared for a war (and France was thinking that the Maginot Line would keep them safe long enough...), while the Nazi Germany was more than ready.
Today? USA is ready for war and so is Iran, but let's be honest, in a direct confrontation (nuclear weapons, that Iran don't have and is not even remotely ready to get even ONE, aside) who would win?
Most analysts says none of them, though the toll on human lives would be much heavier in Iran.
Back then the motto was avoid war at all costs (even if it means throw other countries under the bus).
Today? Israel is feeling like under the bus, but it is really? Think about ALL the weapons they have and the Missile Shield and ask yourself if the USA would REALLY leave them alone in the case of a war. And let's not forget Saudi Arabia (Iran's second biggest rival in the area) and all the weaponry they have been buying lately...
Strange bedfellows as they might be they are the disonant voices since ALL the other major players are with the USA on this one (make peace and not war).
It's easy to quote Chamberlain, but compare the situations he faced (or avoided to face) and the ones Obama and Kerry are facing first.
The Israelis need to speak for themselves since they are closer to where a nuclear weapon would go off. I haven't heard what sanctions would be eased and consequences for blocking inspections or failing to stop enrichment. Any chance that those have been outlined?
pdough i agree the war mongering has to stop PEACE is what the whole world needs