Kerry says scrapping Iran deal would mean path to nuclear weapon

July 29, 2015 09:31
US Secretary of State John Kerry says opponents of the Iran nuclear deal are offering no alternatives. Photo: Reuters

US Secretary of State John Kerry is stepping up efforts to convince lawmakers that rejecting the Iran nuclear deal would give Tehran a fast track to a weapon and access to billions of dollars from collapsed sanctions, Reuters reported.

Days after tough questioning by lawmakers at an emotional Senate hearing, Kerry sharpened his response to criticism that the deal's provisions were temporary and would not prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon in the long run.

"Iran has agreed to refrain from producing or acquiring highly enriched uranium and weapons-grade plutonium for nuclear weapons forever," he told the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday.

"When it comes to verification and monitoring, there is absolutely no sunset in this agreement. Not in 10 years, not in 15 years, not in 20 years, not in 25 years — no sunset ever."

Challenged even by some of his fellow Democrats, Kerry said: "If you kill the deal, you are not making America safer."

Joined by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, Kerry was part of the President Barack Obama's effort to coax skeptical lawmakers into supporting the nuclear pact.

Congress has until Sept. 17 to endorse or reject it. Rejection would prevent Obama from waiving most US-imposed sanctions on Iran, a key component of the deal.

Under the July 14 pact, world powers agreed to lift sanctions in return for curbs on a nuclear program the West suspects was aimed at creating an atomic bomb, but which Tehran says is peaceful.

The four-hour hearing grew heated as some House Republicans shouted at Kerry. Senate Republicans last week accused him of having been "bamboozled" and "fleeced".

At times, Kerry visibly lost patience, saying he was hearing many complaints, while opponents offered no alternative.

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