Secretary Kerry Discusses Resolution of "Possible Military Dimensions" of Iran's Nuclear Program at Press Briefing (Excerpts)

June 16, 2015

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear


QUESTION: I want to start with Iran, if I could. As you mentioned, there are – there have been reports – and not just reports, but officials’ comments from a variety of places over the course of the past couple of days – about the U.S. position and the Iran negotiations. You say that your position hasn’t shifted one iota since the JPOA was signed or even since, but is it not the case that this is a negotiation and there will be and has to be, in fact, give-and-take between the two sides, between the P5+1 and Iran? And if that is, in fact, the case, how can you say that you’re not going to make any concessions, that there are going to be – that there isn’t going to be any movement in your position, especially regarding sanctions, what kind of sanctions get lifted, and the possible military dimensions, the resolution of that? Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Sure, Matt. Well, no, no, listen. Of course, it’s a negotiation. And of course, there is always give-and-take in the context of a negotiation. But Lausanne defined fundamental parameters, as did the JPOA, of what needs to be achieved. For instance, on something like possible military dimensions, the JPOA refers to that and says that it’s got to be addressed in the context of the final product. And that remains true; it has to be. And we have to resolve our questions about it with specificity. Access is very, very critical. It’s always been critical from day one; it remains critical. And we defined that at Lausanne, and those are sort of fundamental outlines, if you will.

Within that context, Matt, of course, there is leeway to be able to further define certain things, and of course, there were things that I specifically articulated in Lausanne at the press conference which we knew had not yet been resolved. So those things remain, obviously, more open than others.

But there are fundamental things here that have to be adhered to in order to have the same definition of a good deal when we talked about it in Lausanne as when we talk about it now. And that has not changed, not going to change, can’t change. Those are going to have to be resolved along the lines that they were defined in Lausanne.


QUESTION: Sir, I’m Michael Gordon, New York Times. You mentioned that possible military dimensions, which is the term of art for suspected nuclear design work and testing of nuclear components, has to be addressed as part of a prospective Iran agreement. Do these concerns need to be fully resolved before sanctions are eased or released or removed or suspended on Iran as part of that agreement? Is that a core principle or is that also negotiable? Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Michael, the possible military dimensions, frankly, gets distorted a little bit in some of the discussion, in that we’re not fixated on Iran specifically accounting for what they did at one point in time or another. We know what they did. We have no doubt. We have absolute knowledge with respect to the certain military activities they were engaged in.

What we’re concerned about is going forward. It’s critical to us to know that going forward, those activities have been stopped, and that we can account for that in a legitimate way. That clearly is one of the requirements in our judgment for what has to be achieved in order to have a legitimate agreement. And in order to have an agreement to trigger any kind of material significant sanctions relief, we would have to have those answers.