Iran’s stubbornness over its nuclear program had put it on a “collision course” with the world that would have led to conflict, Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday, as he defended the July 2015 agreement that this week led to the lifting of draconian sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
“President Obama understood that he would be criticized by some for reaching out to Iran. But he also knew that we were on a collision course, and Iran itself was on a collision course with the international community that in all likelihood, without diplomacy, would have ended in war,” Kerry said at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Now, the secretary of state insisted, “Iran’s path to building a bomb has been closed off, and an additional source of danger in the Middle East has been removed.”
He added: “Every single one of Iran’s pathways to a bomb is blocked. The region is safer. The world is safer.”
Kerry also said that without international intervention, Iran would have continued on a path to nuclear weapons.
“Two years ago, when our formal negotiations began, Iran’s nuclear activities had already grown from a few hundred centrifuges in the years 2000 to more than 19,000. Iran was ready to commission – almost, months away from commissioning – a heavy water reactor that was able to produce enough weapons-grade plutonium for a bomb or two a year. And Iran already had a large and rapidly growing stockpile of enriched uranium,” he said.
“Compare that to where we are today… Due to massive cuts in its uranium stockpile – about 98 percent, may I say – and reductions in its enrichment capacity – all of which, by the way, Iran agreed to – the country’s so-called breakout time has now stretched from two months to 12 months or more for at least a decade, while we build confidence, while we build accountability. And there’ll be 130 additional IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] inspectors in Iran – 24/7, 365 – to make sure that that holds true.”
Kerry also called for a 30-percent increase in humanitarian funding from the United Nations for refugees.
Kerry told the forum that the US wanted to “increase by 30 percent the response to UN humanitarian funding appeals.”
The State Department said this call would amount to an increase in international humanitarian aid for refugees from $10 billion (9.2 billion euros) in 2015 to $13 billion in 2016.
Kerry said President Barack Obama would host a summit on refugees at the UN General Assembly in New York later this year.
“This summit will be the culmination of a sustained, rigorous effort to rally the world community on several fronts,” Kerry said.
The US was also seeking to persuade 10 more countries to take in refugees, he said, without saying which countries they were.