Kerry says Iran deal 'hinge point in history'

US secretary of state John Kerry says the sanctions which were imposed were productive in motivating Iran to dismantle its nuclear program.

John Kerry  (photo credit: Reuters)
John Kerry
(photo credit: Reuters)
WASHINGTON – Secretary of State John Kerry told members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday that the deal cut last month between Iran and the P5+1 – the US, UK, France, Russia, China and Germany – was a good deal that offered the US a real chance at a diplomatic solution to the long-standing nuclear crisis.
He urged the chamber, controlled by Republican members, to hold off on pressing ahead with efforts to further punish Iran, which Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned on Monday would render the deal “entirely dead” should Congress pass a new sanctions bill.
“I don’t think that any of us thought we were just imposing these sanctions for the sake of imposing them,” Kerry told the congressmen.
“We did it because we knew that it would hopefully help Iran dismantle its nuclear program. That was the whole point of the regime.”
The secretary gave a similar briefing to senators on Wednesday, where leaders on the Foreign Relations Committee are considering a bill that would automatically sanction Iran further should negotiators fail to reach a final agreement in six months – a timeframe endorsed by all parties to the deal reached in Geneva.
Kerry said that the administration has not confidently determined whether the Iranian regime has changed its “nuclear calculus,” away from a drive toward weaponized uranium.
The P5+1 deal, brokered in Geneva in November, effectively halts Iran’s nuclear program for a period of six months.
“We’re at a crossroads,” Kerry charged. “We’re at one of those, really, hinge points in history. One path could lead to an enduring resolution in the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program.
The other path could lead to continued hostility and potentially to conflict.
And I don’t have to tell you that these are high stakes.”
T he Obama administration will be the first party to request additional sanctions should six months pass without a final agreement with Iran that ends the conflict “once and for all,” Kerry added.
As a senator before leading the State Department, Kerry had a personal hand in crafting sanctions legislation with his former colleagues still on Capitol Hill.
“This is something that I think you ought to take great pride in,” he said. “I voted for these sanctions, like we all did in the United States Senate. I think we were 100 to nothing as a matter of fact. And we put them in place for a purpose.”
“The purpose was to get to this negotiation,” he continued.
“The purpose was to see whether or not diplomacy and avoidance of war could actually deliver the same thing or better than you might be able to get through confrontation.”