On April 8, Secretary of State John Kerry testified on diplomatic efforts to solve the Iranian nuclear dispute at a budget hearing before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Kerry said he remains “agnostic” over whether the world’s six major powers and Iran can agree on a final deal before the July 20 deadline. Kerry noted that Tehran could produce enough fissile material to produce a nuclear bomb in about two months. When asked if U.S. negotiators were aiming for a breakout window of a year, Kerry replied, “So six months to 12 months is - I'm not saying that's what we'd settle for, but even that is significantly more.” The following are excerpts from Kerry’s remarks at the Foreign Policy Budget Hearing.
Secretary Kerry’s Opening Remarks:
From day one this Administration has made it a foreign policy goal to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
To achieve this goal we have been clear that we will use all the elements of our national power, including direct negotiations with Iran, the very kind that we are engaged in as I speak. We are approaching these talks seriously and with our eyes wide open. That’s why as we negotiate we continue to enforce sanctions on Iran not affected by the Joint Plan of Action – not just incidentally over its nuclear activities, but also because of its support for terrorism. And we will press the case on human rights and its record wherever we can. And we will continue to urge Iran to release our American citizens – Amir Hekmati, Saeed Abedini – and we will work to help find Robert Levinson. All three should be home with their families, and that is consistently raised by us with any Iranian official when we engage.
Secretary Kerry’s Responses to Questions:
I think it's public knowledge today that we're operating with a time period for a so-called breakout of about two months. That's been in the public domain.
So six months to 12 months is [a longer breakout window]- I'm not saying that's what we'd settle for, but even that is significantly more.
If they're [Iranians] overtly breaking out and breaking an agreement and starting to enrich and pursue it, they've made huge consequential decisions. And the greater likelihood is we are going to respond immediately.