Kerry said to meet with Iran’s Zarif in bid to salvage nuclear deal

Former secretary of state reportedly meets world leaders to discuss ways to save accord; Trump mocks Kerry for cycling accident during deal’s negotiations

In this January 16, 2016 file photo, then-secretary of state John Kerry talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Vienna, after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) verified that Iran has met all conditions under the nuclear deal. (Kevin Lamarque/Pool via AP, File)
In this January 16, 2016 file photo, then-secretary of state John Kerry talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Vienna, after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) verified that Iran has met all conditions under the nuclear deal. (Kevin Lamarque/Pool via AP, File)

Former US secretary of state John Kerry recently met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to discuss possible ways of salvaging the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, the Boston Globe reported on Friday, citing a source briefed on the meeting.

Kerry, one of the chief architects of the 2015 accord, is said to be intent on finding a way to save the agreement, which US President Donald Trump has threatened to leave, and is working behind the scenes to find a solution. He reportedly met with Zarif at the United Nations on April 22 — the second meeting between the two on the matter in the span of two months.

The Globe’s source said Kerry also met recently with other top officials to discuss strategies to maintain the accord, including German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Trump is fast approaching his self-imposed May 12 deadline for walking away from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the deal is formally known. In January, he gave Congress and European allies an ultimatum to either amend the pact to his liking or he would renew sanctions against Tehran.

The American president has not yet indicated what he will do. But after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s presentation on Monday detailing Iran’s past covert efforts to nuclear weapon, Trump expressed a sense of vindication over his long-held criticism of the accord.

President Donald Trump speaks at the National Rifle Association annual convention in Dallas, Friday, May 4, 2018. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

“What’s happening today and what’s happened over the last little while and what we’ve learned has really shown that I’ve been 100 percent right,” he said. “That is just not an acceptable situation.”

Reuters reported Thursday that Trump has “all but decided” to withdraw from the nuclear deal, but may not pull out completely. Two White House officials and a third source told the news agency that the president would most likely end the waivers on the Iran sanctions on May 12 when they next come up for renewal. However, an official said it was possible that he would decide on a compromise that was “not a full pullout,” though it was unclear what form such a decision would take.

On Tuesday Kerry 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.

“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.

“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!”

In an address before the National Rifle Association on Friday, Trump took aim at Kerry, mocking him for a cycling accident he suffered amid the 2015 nuclear deal negotiations.

Veering off from gun policy, Trump began castigating the accord, but not without personally ridiculing the top US diplomat who led the landmark talks.

Secretary of State John Kerry plays with his crutches as he talks to reporters before leaving from Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, Friday, June 26, 2015, en route to Vienna, Austria, for talks on the Iranian nuclear deal. (Carlos Barria/Pool Photo via AP)

“They’re saying death to America and we have the former administration as represented by John Kerry — not the best negotiator we’ve ever seen,” Trump said. “He never walked away from the table, except to be in that bicycle race where he fell and broke his leg. That was the only time.”

In May 2015, Kerry hit a curb while cycling in Scionzier, France, and broke his right femur. He returned to the negotiations in crutches. At the time, Trump also mocked the Massachusetts native for appearing weak because of the injury.

“I said, ‘Don’t tell them you broke your leg. Just stay inside and tell them you don’t want to negotiate, you’ll make a much better deal.’ But he broke his leg,” Trump said. “And I learned from that — at 73 years old, you never go into a bicycle race. You just don’t do that.”

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed