Trump bashes Kerry over reported meeting with Iran FM

Trump bashes Kerry over reported meeting with Iran FM

Ex-US secretary of state defends efforts to preserve nuke deal after president accuses him of ‘possibly illegal shadow diplomacy’

US President Donald Trump tries to listen to a question as walks on the South Lawn upon his return to the White House from Cleveland, Ohio, on May 5, 2018. (AFP Photo/Yuri Gripas)
US President Donald Trump tries to listen to a question as walks on the South Lawn upon his return to the White House from Cleveland, Ohio, on May 5, 2018. (AFP Photo/Yuri Gripas)

US President Donald Trump took aim Monday at John Kerry over the Iran nuclear deal, after a report said the former secretary of state met with his Iranian counterpart in a bid to save the accord.

“The United States does not need John Kerry’s possibly illegal Shadow Diplomacy on the very badly negotiated Iran Deal,” Trump tweeted. “He was the one that created this MESS in the first place!”

On Friday, the Boston Globe reported that Kerry, who helped craft the 2015 deal between Iran and world powers, met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif twice in recent months to discuss ways to preserve the accord.

Trump has threatened to pull the US out of the deal by May 12 if is not overhauled to address his criticisms. Iran and the deal’s other signatories — Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China — support the continuation of the pact.

A spokesperson for Kerry defended his efforts to preserve the deal in response to Trump’s tweet, saying like previous secretaries of state he remains in contact with his former counterparts.

“I think every American would want every voice possible urging Iran to remain in compliance with the nuclear agreement that prevented a war,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

“Like America’s closest allies, he believes it is important that the nuclear agreement, which took the world years to negotiate, remain effective as countries focus on stability in the region.”

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)

According to the Boston Globe, 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.

Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s attorney and a former New York City mayor, on Sunday told ABC News Kerry had violated the Logan Act, a non-enforced 18th century law prohibiting unauthorized US citizens from carrying out foreign policy.

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

“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.”

On Tuesday Kerry said that details revealed by Israel confirming that 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 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.”

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.

Then US secretary of state John Kerry walks with crutches to the hotel where the Iran nuclear talks were being held in Vienna, Austria, July 1, 2015. (AFP Photo/Christian Bruna)

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

“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.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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