Secretary of State John Kerry's Testimony on the Iran Nuclear Deal Before the Senate Armed Services Committee (Excerpts)

July 29, 2015

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear


SECRETARY KERRY: If Iran were to start enriching or move back to its program, we have no inspectors, we have no sanctions that are universal.  The United States can have them, but we’ve already seen sanctions don’t get them to give up the program.  So you’re stuck with a situation of what will change the dynamic of their program, and the fact is then you are in, as Secretary Carter has said and as General Dempsey has just said, they will respond, and then we’ll respond, and then it’s back and forth.  The question is:  Where does that end and how does it end, and does it accomplish the goal of getting rid of their program?  We don’t believe so.  We believe this agreement accomplishes the goal and provides us with the support on a continuing basis of the international community.


SECRETARY KERRY: We felt that we had to keep this targeted on the greatest threat of all that you’ve just defined, which is the potential of their having a nuclear weapon. And if indeed they’re meaning to translate their slogans of “death to America, death to Israel” into policy, then getting rid of the nuclear weapon is everybody’s first imperative here. So that’s what we focused on because we knew that you could get tangled up. Our definition – one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist. You can be fighting forever on the issue of Sunni/Shia definitions of who’s protecting whom, and you won’t get anywhere. You literally will not get there. That’s why we separated those activities. . Now, that does not --


SECRETARY KERRY: -- that does not reduce our commitment, as we’ve defined here again and again, to push back on every one of those activities. But it’s easier to push back against an Iran that doesn’t have a nuclear weapon than one that does.


SECRETARY KERRY: When you say, “Could the United States continue some sanctions?” to what end? To negotiate? I mean, with whom? You think the Ayatollah’s going to come back to negotiate after he’s already --

CHAIRMAN MCCAIN: Secretary Kerry, the time has expired. Please shorten your remarks.

SECRETARY KERRY: But could I just finish one thing, Senator?


SECRETARY KERRY: The reason that the President talks about the possibility of war is Iran has already made it clear that if this is rejected, they consider themselves free to go back and enrich and to go back to where they were with the 12,000 kilograms, 10-12 bombs, et cetera. And the inevitable consequence of that will be what are you going to do about it – next step. We will have lost the international support because the international community is ready to enforce this deal. If we’re not unilaterally, they walk away. So you have huge difficulty with the sanctions and you lose your capacity to have the support for the military strike if there had to be one. It’s not a choice the President wants to make, but it’s the inevitable consequence of them moving to assert what they believe is their right in the furtherance of their program.