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US Concerned About Russian Missile Deal

On April 13, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree lifting a ban on the sale of advanced S-300 air defense missile systems to Iran. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the embargo was no longer necessary given progress in nuclear talks between Iran and the world’s six major powers.  “We believe that at this stage there is no longer need for this kind of embargo - from the Russian side it was unilateral and voluntary,” he said.

Tehran welcomed the move while Washington and Tel Aviv expressed concern.Given Iran’s destabilizing actions in the region in places like Yemen or Syria or Lebanon that this isn’t the time to be selling these kinds of systems to them,” State Department Spokesperson Marie Harf said.
Moscow originally imposed the ban and cancelled a $800 million contract to supply the systems to Iran in 2010 after it supported a U.N. Security Council resolution that imposed sanctions on Iran and restricted the arms trade. Iran hopes to receive the missile systems by the end of the year. But a top adviser to Putin told Interfax that delivery of the missile system “will take some time.” The timing for delivery “depends on our manufacturers. I think it will be a minimum of half a year to finish the work,” said Nikolai Patrushev. The following are excerpted remarks on the deal by Russian, Iranian, U.S. and Israeli officials.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
The world’s six major powers and Iran made “substantial progress in resolving the Iranian nuclear program [dispute]. The political framework of the final deal agreed upon was highly praised by the international community.”
“We believe that at this stage there is no longer need for this kind of embargo - from the Russian side it was unilateral and voluntary.”
“Meanwhile, a modern air defense system is now very relevant to Iran, especially taking into account the severe escalation of tensions in neighboring areas and especially the rapid development of military activity in Yemen in recent weeks.”
The system “will not put at risk the security of any state in the region, including Israel.”
—April 13, 2015 in a press conference
Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani
“I hope that the anti-missile defense systems will be delivered by the end of the year and, naturally, as soon as the systems are delivered to Iran, the case [against Russia] will be dropped.”
“Great strategic possibilities exist in the relations between Russia and Iran.”
—April 14, 2015 according to Sputnik and Interfax
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
“We welcome the right decision by President Putin to move forward... I think it is a step in the right direction and we are looking forward to expanding our relations.”
—April 14, 2015 at a press conference in Madrid, Spain
United States
State Department Spokesperson Marie Harf
MS HARF: Well, we’ve certainly made our concerns with the sale of the S-300 system to Iran known for some time.  This certainly isn’t new.  The Secretary raised those concerns in a call with Foreign Minister Lavrov this morning.  We don’t believe it’s constructive at this time for Russia to move forward with this, but we’ve worked very closely with the Russians on the P5+1 negotiations.  We don’t think this will have an impact on unity in terms of inside the negotiating room.  So they did discuss it, discussed the Iran negotiations in general as well, and I don’t have more of a readout for you than that.
QUESTION:  Okay.  Is it the Administration’s position that the S-300s, the transfer of them to Iran would violate existing sanctions?
MS HARF:  In terms of UN Security Council sanctions, it’s my understanding that it would not.
And we think given Iran’s destabilizing actions in the region in places like Yemen or Syria or Lebanon that this isn’t the time to be selling these kinds of systems to them.  So in general, that’s what our concerns are based on. And we have concerns about things separate and apart from whether they would be a violation of Security Council sanctions.
—April 13, 2015 in a press briefing
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest
QUESTION: The Kremlin has said that Putin has lifted a ban on providing anti-missile rocket systems to Iran.  This is also coming as Russia seems to be prepared to supply grain and other equipment in an oil-for-goods swap with Iran that may position them to have kind of a head start when and if sanctions are lifted.  Is the President -- has he been briefed on this?  What is his response?
MR. EARNEST:  Well, Julia, we’ve seen those reports as they relate to the possible sale of the S-300 anti-ballistic missile system to Iran.  The United States has previously made known our objections to that sale, and I understand that Secretary Kerry had an opportunity to raise these concerns once again in a recent conversation with his Russian counterpart, Mr. Lavrov.
I’m not in a position to, obviously, speculate on the decision-making process that Russia is engaged in right now, but I do think it’s safe to say that Russia understands that the United States certainly takes very seriously the safety and security of our allies in the region. 
As it relates to the other oil-for-goods discussion, this is something that has been -- this is a discussion that has been underway for several months now, and we’ve obviously been aware that there are proposals involving Russia and Iran to, essentially, barter Iranian oil for Russian goods.  We’re studying the details, and if this sort of arrangement were to move forward it would raise serious concerns and even could potentially raise sanctions concerns.  So we’re going to continue to evaluate that moving forward as well.
QUESTION: Could it endanger finalizing a deal by the end of June?
MR. EARNEST:  Well, one of the things that we have indicated has been critical to our success in this diplomatic process has been the unity of the international community.  And the United States and our partners in Europe have been able to work closely with both Russia and China to bring Iran to the negotiating table by putting in place and enforcing tough sanctions, and engaging in a negotiating position that has succeeded in getting Iran to make serious commitments about limitations and, in some cases, even rolling back specific elements of their nuclear program. 
So we value the coordination and unity that we have been able to maintain throughout this rather long process.  In fact, we recently even saw that an official from the foreign ministry in Russia indicated that the U.S. document outlining the parameters of the agreement with Iran was consistent and did reflect the agreement that was reached at the table.  And again, that underscores the kind of unity around the specific agreement that we believe has been critical to our success.
We’ll obviously evaluate these two other proposals moving forward.  And obviously we have been in direct touch with Russia to make sure that they understand -- and they do -- the potential concerns we have.
—April 13, 2015 in a press briefing
Benjamin Netanyahu
“The sale of advanced weapons to Iran is the result of the dangerous agreement that is emerging between Iran and the [six world] powers.
“After this arms deal [for the S-300] is there anyone who can seriously claim that the [framework] agreement with Iran will increase the security in the Middle East.”
—April 14, 2015 in a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin
Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz
“At a time when Iran denies clause after clause of the agreement declared last week, the international community has already begun easing its sanctions.
“This is a direct result of the legitimacy that Iran is receiving from the nuclear deal that is being prepared, and proof that the Iranian economic growth which follows the lifting of sanctions will be exploited for arming itself and not for the welfare of the Iranian people.
“Instead of demanding that Iran desist from the terrorist activity that it is carrying out in the Middle East and throughout the world, it is being allowed to arm itself with advanced weapons that will only increase its aggression.”
—April 13, 2015 in a statement
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon
The Iran-Russia deal is “something we have been warning about even before the details [of the agreement] were concluded. It was clear, even then, that sanctions will be lifted, and that of course this will influence and strengthen the Iranian economy.
“This issue was not discussed at all [during nuclear talks with Iran], and this is one of the biggest holes in the agreement. It is outside of the framework agreement, and this is certainly very disturbing. I hope that there will be time in the coming months to fix this.
“We continue to warn about the bad agreement that is developing with Iran, which does not include terrorism, missile components, or the military dimension of the Iranian nuclear project. Hence, we are against this bad agreement.”

—April 14, 2015 in a statement

Obama and Abadi: On Iran Role in Iraq

On April 14, President Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi held talks at the White House. During a photo op, Obama answered a question about Iran’s role in Iraq. The following is an excerpt of his remarks.

QUESTION: Mr. President, in terms of Iran’s involvement in Iraq -- are you comfortable with the level of coordination that’s been going on with Iran, even if it’s through a third party?
PRESIDENT OBAMA:  This is something that we discussed extensively.  I think that, as I’ve said before and I will repeat, we expect Iran to have an important relationship with Iraq as a close neighbor.  And obviously the fact that Iraq is a Shia-majority country means that it will be influenced and have relations with Iran as well.  And at the point in which Daesh or ISIL was surging and the Iraqi government was still getting organized at that point, I think the mobilization of Shia militias was something that was understood to protect Baghdad or other critical areas. 
Once Prime Minister Abadi took power, once he reorganized the government and the security forces, once the coalition came in at the invitation of and in an agreement with a sovereign Iraqi government, then our expectation is from that point on, any foreign assistance that is helping to defeat ISIL has to go through the Iraqi government.  That’s how you respect Iraqi sovereignty. That’s how you recognize the democratic government that was hard-earned and is being upheld in the work that Prime Minister Abadi is doing in reaching out to all the various factions inside of Iraq.
And so I think Prime Minister Abadi’s position has been that he welcomes help, as you just heard, but it needs to be help that is not simply coordinated with the Iraqi government but ultimately is answerable to the Iraqi government and is funneled through the chain of command within the Iraqi government.  And that’s what we’ve been very careful to do.  I’ve made clear from the outset that ISIL was an enemy and we will make sure that they do not threaten the United States and we will go after them wherever they are.  But when we are working with a strong ally and partner like Iraq, it is very important for us to coordinate our activities so that the impression is not that the United States is somehow moving back into Iraq, but rather the United States is doing what’s ultimately best for the Iraqi people, even as we join in fighting a common enemy.
And that’s why Prime Minister Abadi’s clear statement, both inside of Iraq and to the world community, that it is important for all fighting forces to be under unified control of the Iraqi government is so important.  And I think it’s particularly significant that that view is shared among a wide range of political parties inside of Iraq and was echoed by Grand Ayatollah Sistani just recently.  It sends a clear message that ultimately Iraq is in control of its own destiny.  And part of that means that those who possess arms and have the ability to apply force and defend their country have to be under a single government. 
As Prime Minister Abadi mentioned, that's particularly important in order to ensure that the government is accountable for the actions of armed forces so that if there are criminal acts or sectarian retributions that are carried out, that ultimately Prime Minister Abadi is able to call those forces to account and to control them, to make sure that you don't have a backlash as consequence of the efforts to clear territory from ISIL’s control.
So our coordination I think has consistently improved over time as Prime Minister Abadi has gained greater control over Iraqi security forces.  As the training efforts and equipping efforts that we're engaged in continue to improve, coordinating how our air power can support and expand into a more effective Iraqi security force deployment is going to continue to be critical.  But none of this works unless there is a perception among all the parties involved -- Shia, Sunni, Kurd, and others inside of Iraq -- that this is an inclusive government that is listening to the voices of all the people and including them in decision-making.  And the fact that Prime Minister Abadi is doing that makes our job and the coalition’s job of coordination much easier.

Iran Wins in U.S. – at Wrestling

On April 12, Iran’s national wrestling team beat the U.S. squad 5-3 to win the 2015 Freestyle Wrestling World Cup. It was Iran’s sixth time taking the title and its fourth consecutive victory. A congratulatory message was posted on Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s Twitter account soon after the match.

The competition was held in Los Angeles, California, which is home to a large community of Iranian expatriates. Iranian fans reportedly made up more than half of the 4,234 spectators at The Forum and cheered so loudly that the Iranian team may have had “the sense of a home-mat advantage,” according to the Orange County Register.
As an individual, American Olympic gold medalist and two-time World champion Jordan Burroughs performed well. But his 10-0 victory over Iran’s Morteza Rezaei Ghaleh was not enough to turn the match around. “There aren’t a lot of times you beat an Iranian 10-0, so it was a great win,” he said. “They were giving it to us, they were relentless. They’ve got bells, whistles,” Burroughs told the Register. The following is a roundup of coverage of the event.


Click here for the full results of the match.

Obama: Nuclear Deal is the Best Option

On April 11, President Barack Obama emphasized that a nuclear deal, if finalized, is the best way to curb Iran’s nuclear program. He claimed that a majority of technical experts think that the framework announced April 2 could lead to “a realistic, plausible, meaningful approach to cut off the pathways for Iran getting a nuclear weapon, and that it is more likely to succeed not only than maintaining current sanctions or additional sanctions, but more likely to succeed than if we took a military approach to solving the problem.” The following are excerpts from his remarks to the press at the Summit of the Americas in Panama City.

Now, with respect to Iran, I have always been clear:  We are not done yet.  What we were able to obtain was a political framework between the P5+1 nations and Iran that provided unprecedented verification of what is taking place in Iran over the next two decades that significantly cuts back on its centrifuges, that cuts of pathways for it to obtain a nuclear weapon, and that calls for, in return, the rolling back of sanctions in a phased way that allows us to snap back if Iran violates the agreement.  That’s the political framework.  That was not just something that the United States and Iran agreed to, but Iran agreed to a political framework with the other P5+1 nations.
Now, what’s always been clear is, is that Iran has its own politics around this issue.  They have their own hardliners.  They have their own countervailing impulses in terms of whether or not to go forward with something, just as we have in our country.  And so it’s not surprising to me that the Supreme Leader or a whole bunch of other people are going to try to characterize the deal in a way that protects their political position.  But I know what was discussed at -- in arriving at the political agreement. 
What I’ve always said, though, is that there’s the possibility of backsliding.  There’s the possibility that it doesn’t get memorialized in a way that satisfies us that we’re able to verify that, in fact, Iran is not getting a nuclear weapon, and that we are preserving the capacity to snap back sanctions in the event that they are breaking any deal.
And that’s why the work is going to be so important between now and the end of June to memorialize this so that we can all examine it.  And we don’t have to speculate on what the meaning of a deal is going to be.  Either there’s going to be a document that Iran agrees with the world community about and a series of actions that have to be taken, or there’s not.  Part of the challenge in this whole process has been opponents of basically any deal with Iran have constantly tried to characterize what the deal is without seeing it. 
Now, if we are able to obtain a final deal that comports with the political agreement -- and I say “if” because that’s not yet final -- then I’m absolutely positive that that is the best way to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.  And that’s not my opinion; that’s the opinion of people like Ernie Moniz, my Secretary of Energy, who is a physicist from MIT and actually knows something about this stuff.  That’s the opinion of a whole bunch of nuclear experts who examined the deal. 
Very rarely do you see a consensus -- “consensus” is too strong a word -- a large majority of people who are experts in the field saying this is actually a realistic, plausible, meaningful approach to cut off the pathways for Iran getting a nuclear weapon, and that it is more likely to succeed not only than maintaining current sanctions or additional sanctions, but more likely to succeed than if we took a military approach to solving the problem.
Again, that’s not uniquely my opinion.  That is -- talk to people who are not affiliated with the administration, some of whom were skeptical about our capacity to get a deal done and have now looked at it and said if we’re able to actually get what was discussed in the political framework, it’s absolutely the right thing to do.
Now, there’s politics and political pressure inside of the United States.  We all know that.  The Prime Minister of Israel is deeply opposed to it.  I think he’s made that very clear.  I have repeatedly asked, what is the alternative that you present that you think makes it less likely for Iran to get a nuclear weapon, and I have yet to obtain a good answer on that that. 
And the narrow question that’s going to be presented next week when Congress comes back is what’s Congress’s appropriate role in looking at a final deal.  And I’ve talked to not only Bob Corker, but I’ve talked to Ben Cardin, the Ranking Member on the Democratic side.  And I want to work with them so that Congress can look at this deal when it’s done.  What I’m concerned about is making sure that we don’t prejudge it, or those who are opposed to any deal whatsoever try to use a procedural argument essentially to screw up the possibility of a deal. 
Last comment I’m going to make on this.  When I hear some, like Senator McCain recently, suggest that our Secretary of State, John Kerry, who served in the United States Senate, a Vietnam veteran, who’s provided exemplary service to this nation, is somehow less trustworthy in the interpretation of what’s in a political agreement than the Supreme Leader of Iran -- that’s an indication of the degree to which partisanship has crossed all boundaries.  And we’re seeing this again and again.  We saw it with the letter by the 47 senators who communicated directly to the Supreme Leader of Iran -- the person that they say can’t be trusted at all -- warning him not to trust the United States government.
We have Mitch McConnell trying to tell the world, oh, don’t have confidence in the U.S. government’s abilities to fulfill any climate change pledge that we might make.  And now we have a senator suggesting that our Secretary of State is purposely misinterpreting the deal and giving the Supreme Leader of Iran the benefit of the doubt in the interpretations. 
That’s not how we’re supposed to run foreign policy, regardless of who’s President or Secretary of State.  We can have arguments, and there are legitimate arguments to be had.  I understand why people might be mistrustful of Iran.  I understand why people might oppose the deal -- although the reason is not because this is a bad deal per se, but they just don’t trust any deal with Iran, and may prefer to take a military approach to it.
But when you start getting to the point where you are actively communicating that the United States government and our Secretary of State is somehow spinning presentations in a negotiation with a foreign power, particularly one that you say is your enemy, that’s a problem.  It needs to stop.
Click here for the full transcript

Kerry Defends Blueprint for Iran Deal

In three interviews on April 12, Secretary of State John Kerry maintained that his portrayal of the blueprint for a nuclear deal with Iran is correct. “Everything I have laid out is a fact and I’ll stand by them,” he told CBS’ Bob Schieffer. Statements by Iranian leaders, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have suggested that Tehran’s interpretation of the framework differs from Washington’s, especially on the pace of sanctions relief.  

Kerry also warned U.S. lawmakers against passing new legislation that could jeopardize the negotiations. “What we’re looking for -- is not to have Congress interfere with our ability inappropriately by stepping on the prerogatives of the executive department of the president and putting in place conditions and terms that are going to get in the way of the implementation of a plan,” he told NBC’s Chuck Todd. The following are excerpts from Kerry’s interviews with three American networks.

Interview with Chuck Todd of NBC Meet the Press

QUESTION: Let me move to Iran because Iran is on the state sponsor of terror list. Why – how is it that you can do a nuclear agreement and trust a country to abide by that agreement that you also believe, that our government believes, is a state sponsor of terror?
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, the bottom line is the word you used, “trust.” We don’t trust. There is no element of trust in what we’re doing. You have to build trust, and that takes place over a long period of time.
This is an agreement that is based on transparency, accountability, verification. You have to be able to know what is happening. And we believe the President’s responsibility and my responsibility in support of him is to guarantee and protect the security of our country and of our friends and allies. And we believe that this agreement does that. We know that the American people overwhelmingly would like to see if we could resolve this question of Iran’s nuclear program peacefully. And that’s what we’re trying to do, but it requires a protocol of visibility, of accountability, of insight, of transparency ––so that we know what Iran is doing. And over a long period of time we believe that we can indeed do what’s necessary to make the guarantees that are important to everyone.
Now -- what’s key here is that what we have done shuts off the four principal pathways to a bomb for Iran in the Natanz facility, in the Arak plutonium facility, in the Fordow underground facility, and also the covert program. We think that – we don’t think – the science tells us that we have an ability to know what Iran is doing and to be able to shut off those pathways to a bomb. That makes the world safer.
QUESTION: And there are plenty of people that say if your – what you say the agreement is is the agreement, there are plenty of people, even some Republicans, who say it’s a good agreement. However, the leader of Iran, the ayatollah – and everybody knows this is the guy that calls the shots – he tweets this out in English: “I trust our negotiators but I’m really worried as the other side is into lying and breaching promises. An example was the White House fact sheet.”
And when you look at the differences, whether it’s President Rouhani and what he has said or what the ayatollah has said: The United States has said there’s going to be a gradual relief of sanctions based on progress, the Iranians say there’s immediate sanction relief; the U.S. says there’s limits on uranium enrichment, the Iranians say there’s no mention of enrichment limits; the U.S. says there’s restrictions on Iranian research, the Iranians say there is no restrictions on research and development.
Why are they publicly lying, if that’s what they’re doing?
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, I’m not going to get into accusations back and forth. That doesn’t help our process. It’s not going to solve any problems –
QUESTION: Are they being truthful? Are the Iranians truthful here?
SECRETARY KERRY: Let me just say this to you, Chuck. They’re going to say the things that they feel they need to say with respect to their deal at home. And all I can tell you is this: When we did the interim agreement, there were these same kinds of discrepancies, or spin if you want to call it that, with respect to what the deal was or wasn’t. But in the end, the deal was signed and the deal has been agreed to and lived up to. No one contests that Iran has lived up to every component of that agreement, and the deal is what we said it was.
Now, with respect to the fact sheet that we put out, just yesterday the Russians released a statement saying that the statement released by the United States is both reliable and factual. So I will stand by every word that I have uttered publicly, and I will be briefing the United States Congress in full – the House tomorrow, the Senate the next day – and we will lay out all of the details to them, some of which are obviously classified, but we will have a long discussion about what the facts are.
QUESTION: All right. But if the Iranians insist that immediate sanction relief has to take place, immediate, that all sanctions have to be gone, will you walk away from that deal?
SECRETARY KERRY: Again, I’m not going to get into one side’s or another side’s characterization of what the deal is or isn’t. We’ve made clear what our needs are, what our expectations are. We’ve made it very clear that if we can’t achieve our goals we will not sign a deal, and we’ve said that again and again to Congress, to the world. We want a good deal. We believe that the outlines, the parameters that we have laid out thus far, are the outlines of that good deal. Now, is it perfect yet? No. Are there things that need to be done? Yes. That’s why we have another two and a half months of negotiation.
And what we’re looking for -- is not to have Congress interfere with our ability inappropriately by stepping on the prerogatives of the executive department of the president and putting in place conditions and terms that are going to get in the way of the implementation of a plan.
Click here for a full transcript.
Interview with Bob Schieffer of CBS Face the Nation
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, last week the Iranian supreme leader said no nuclear deal unless all sanctions are lifted; there will be no inspection of military sites. But according to the chairman of the Armed Services Committee John McCain, a longtime colleague of yours, he said that the ayatollah’s comments were not what you had been talking about, and here’s what he said in a radio talk show interview: “John Kerry must have known what was in it and yet chose to interpret it in another way. It’s probably in black and white that the ayatollah is probably right. John Kerry is delusional.”
And then last night the President shot back pretty hard at John McCain: “And when I hear some, like Senator McCain recently, suggest that our Secretary of State John Kerry, who served in the United States Senate, a Vietnam veteran who’s provided exemplary service to this nation, is somehow less trustworthy in the interpretation of what’s in a political agreement than the supreme leader of Iran, that’s an indication of the degree to which partisanship has crossed all boundaries.”
So there you have it, Mr. Secretary. What – do you agree with what the President said? Do you go that far?
SECRETARY KERRY: I think the President has spoken very powerfully to Senator McCain’s comments and belief in the ayatollah’s interpretation. I’ll let the facts speak for themselves. Yesterday the Russians, who are not our usual ally, released a statement saying that what we have put out in terms of our information is both reliable and accurate. And I will be briefing the Congress in depth tomorrow with the House and Tuesday with the Senate, and I’ll lay out the facts. Everything I have laid out is a fact and I’ll stand by them.
In the end, it’s really the final agreement that will determine it. And I would remind you we had this same dueling narrative, discrepancy, spin – whatever you want to call it – with respect to the interim agreement, Bob. But in the end, the interim agreement came out exactly as we had described. And what’s important is Iran not only signed it but has lived up to it in every respect. Iran has proven that it will join into an agreement and then live by the agreement. And so that’s important as we come into the final two and a half months of negotiation.
It’s also important to note that we have two and a half more months to negotiate, so this is not finalized. This is an outline of parameters. And most people are very surprised by the depth and breadth and detail of these parameters, and it went well beyond what they expected. And I think people need to hold their fire and let us negotiate without interference and be able to complete the job over the course of the next two and a half months.
QUESTION: But do you think, Mr. Secretary, hearing the – Senator John McCain, I must say I was surprised by his comments. He went so strong here. Can you possibly get this through the Congress if a deal is reached if he’s talking that way already?
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, again, the President spoke to Senator McCain’s comments, and I’m not going to say anything further about it. I’m focused on the facts. I’m focused on getting a good agreement. I think what we have thus far are the makings of a very good agreement. And the key is now: Can we shut off Iran’s four pathways to a bomb? I think we’ve laid out an outline that does that.
And what’s interesting is the scientific community, the expert community – joined, I might add, by Russia, China, Germany, France, Great Britain – their experts all agree with us. So this is not just the United States of America. This is a global mandate issued by the United Nations to be able to negotiate with Iran. They’re the ones who created the beginning of this, and the Congress assisted by passing sanctions, helping to bring Iran to the table. The whole purpose of the sanctions was to have a negotiation. Now we’re having that negotiation. And I think we’ve earned the right through what we’ve achieved in the interim agreement and what we have laid out in this parameter that has been set forth, we’ve earned the right to be able to try to complete this without interference and certainly without partisan politics.
Click here for a full transcript.
Interview with George Stephanopoulos of ABC This Week
QUESTION: We’re also seeking a new relationship with Iran. You called that framework deal on the nuclear program historic; but the more we hear from the Iranian side, the less it sounds like a real deal at all. I want to – we saw Ayatollah Khamenei, the supreme leader, speak out this week on the deal. This office put out a tweet that says, “Hours after the talks Americans offered a fact sheet that most of it was contrary to what was agreed. They always deceive and break promises.”
And there do seem to be big differences. The ayatollah says that the sanctions will be lifted as soon as the deal is implemented. The United States says no, it will only come after Iran takes those steps and it’s verified by the IAEA. So is there a deal on that question or not?
SECRETARY KERRY: George, the facts on which the parameters are based are facts. And yesterday the Russians issued a statement saying that the fact sheet or the facts as expressed by the United States are reliable and accurate information. Now, you can go back to the interim agreement, and we have the same kind of dueling narratives. They’re going to put their spin on their point of view, and obviously, they’ll allege that we’re putting a spin on our point of view. But I will stand by every fact that I have said, stated publicly.
And you have to look to the interim agreement where they likewise put out a different set of interpretations. But when it came time to implement the agreement, the agreement that was implemented was the agreement that we had articulated and it was the agreement that has been kept. And to Iran’s credit, Iran has lived up to and lived by every requirement in that agreement.
So I’m going to let the facts speak for themselves. I don’t want to get into a back and forth publicly. I don’t think it serves any purpose. I’ll be consulting Congress – tomorrow the House and on Tuesday the Senate. I will lay out in full our understanding of this agreement. And if it isn’t the understanding, George, we’re not going to sign an agreement. I mean, we will come to these next two and a half months open to trying to improve still, perhaps finish on a few – not perhaps – definitely finish in a few areas that were clearly left unresolved. And that’s going to have to happen for a full agreement to be put into place.
QUESTION: When you go up to Capitol Hill, you’ll probably encounter your old friend and colleague, Senator John McCain, who seems to be saying – suggesting that the ayatollah has his interpretation right. He calls you, quote, “delusional.” And he went on to say this: “I can’t blame the ayatollah because I don’t think they ever agreed to it, and I think John Kerry tried to come back and sell a bill of goods hoping maybe that the Iranians wouldn’t say much about it.”
Selling us a bill of goods?
SECRETARY KERRY: (Laughter.) I think President Obama spoke very, very powerfully to Senator McCain yesterday, and I’ll let the President’s words stand. I also stand by every fact that I have laid out. It’s an unusual affirmation of our facts to come from Russia, but Russia has said that what we’ve set out is reliable and accurate. And I will let the final agreement speak for itself.
Click here for a full transcript.

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