Kerry defends Iran nuclear deal from Netanyahu critique

Kerry defends Iran nuclear deal from Netanyahu critique

Former US secretary of state says world sought an agreement precisely because it was aware of Tehran’s atomic ambitions

Former US Secretary of State, John Kerry, attends a panel discussion at the International Security Conference in Munich, Germany, February 18, 2018. (Andreas Gebert/dpa via AP)
Former US Secretary of State, John Kerry, attends a panel discussion at the International Security Conference in Munich, Germany, February 18, 2018. (Andreas Gebert/dpa via AP)

Former US secretary of state John Kerry on Tuesday said that details revealed by Israel confirming Iran sought to develop atomic bombs are exactly why the international community had sought to secure a landmark agreement aimed at preventing Tehran from obtaining such weapons.

Kerry was responding to information publicly presented by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a press conference the day before. Netanyahu revealed that Israeli spies had smuggled out of Iran some 100,000 archived documents and files detailing Tehran’s nuclear weapons ambitions and research in the years prior to the signing of the deal.

The prime minister declared in conclusion that Iran had lied to the world about its nuclear weapons research and urged the US to “do the right thing” when deciding whether or not to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear agreement. The premier has repeatedly called for the accord — which Iran signed with Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States — to either be altered or scrapped.

“Every detail PM Netanyahu presented yesterday was every reason the world came together to apply years of sanctions and negotiate the Iran nuclear agreement – because the threat was real and had to be stopped,” Kerry wrote on Twitter. “It’s working! That’s why Israeli security experts are speaking out.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a speech on files obtained by Israel he says proves Iran lied about its nuclear program, at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, on April 30, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Kerry posted a link to a letter published by the left-wing J Street lobbying group, in which 26 former senior Israeli military and security commanders urged the US to remain in the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

“Everything that PM Netanyahu laid out was exactly why we needed this agreement,” continued Kerry, who served as secretary of state under president Barack Obama, and was one of the chief architects of the deal.

Netanyahu’s elaborate presentation live on television Monday night came ahead of a crucial decision by US President Donald Trump by May 12 on whether to withdraw from the nuclear agreement.

Trump and his Middle East allies, particularly Israel, argue that the agreement forged by Obama is too weak and needs to be replaced with a more permanent arrangement supplemented by controls on Iran’s missile program.

“It’s worth remembering that the early 2000’s — when his evidence comes from — was the period where the world had no visibility into Iran’s program,” Kerry said. “More and more centrifuges were spinning each month and the world wasn’t united like it is now.”

He pointed to another recent letter by 500 members of parliament from Britain, France, and Germany, sent to US lawmakers, urging them to preserve the deal.

“There was no negotiation — and all of that changed with JCPOA. Blow up the deal and you’re back there tomorrow!”

US Secretary of State John Kerry (C) is pictured during an Iran nuclear talks meeting with the Iranian Foreign Minister in Vienna on July 3, 2015 (AFP/ POOL / CARLOS BARRIA)

Israel’s revelation of the intelligence trove on Iran’s alleged nuclear ambitions was met with skepticism by world leaders who support the accord, many of whom noted that there was no actual evidence that the 2015 pact had been violated.

Iran has always denied it sought a nuclear weapon, insisting its atomic program was for civilian purposes.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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