Interview with Wes Barrett of FOX
Secretary of State
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, thank you for taking the time to do this.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thanks.
QUESTION: How do you address Congressional members, both Republican and Democrat, who are going to be very skeptical of this deal, and convince them that this is the deal to go with and that Iran can be trusted to hold up their end of the bargain?
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, it’s not about trust. This is about verification. It’s about access; it’s about accountability; it’s about limitations and restrictions. And I count on the members of Congress to look at this appropriately skeptically. They ought to. I don’t discount that. There will be great skepticism. In some places, unfortunately, people have already made up their minds and they’ve decided way ahead of time they’re just going to oppose whatever it is.
But we’re prepared to, obviously, be accountable to the United States Congress, House and Senate. We have to answer a lot of questions. We have all the experts who will spend their time doing that. And my judgment is that given the amount of time our experts have spent, the amount of time we’ve all spent looking at this, we have confidence that we will be able to know what Iran is doing and that Iran’s breakout time today of two to three months is expanded for at least – excuse me, 10-plus more years, ranging into the double digits in terms of its breakout time being larger, significantly larger. That makes every country in the region safer.
And for the long term over those years, we will be building insight into their program. There’ll be joint venturing; there’ll be limitations. We will have greater confidence and even greater capacity to know what Iran is doing.
QUESTION: If Congress doesn’t buy that and decides to try to push additional sanctions, how much damage does that do to the deal that you put together here?
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, it could kill the opportunity. I mean, it’s not exactly good faith to be negotiating, have a country be willing to place certain restrictions and open it up and have accountability, and then turn around and punish them with additional sanctions when they’re working to come to an agreement. It just doesn’t make sense. So I hope people will recognize that that’s not the way to go, and we will certainly make the best case that we can based on the facts.
QUESTION: Prime Minister Netanyahu still maintains this deal will make the region less safe rather than more safe. What’s your response to his claim?
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, we just don’t agree with him. He was – he said the same thing about the joint agreement that we put in place a year ago to lead up to this, and it has, in fact, made Israel and other countries more safe because it held back the Iranian program – the first measures that actually held it back. For all of the rhetoric and panting and chanting about Iran’s threat, we are the first people who’ve actually held that program in check. That makes Israel and every other country in the region safer. And we are convinced that over time, this – these measures that we’re putting in place and the accountability will do so in the future. We will know that Iran’s program is peaceful. And this is – those who oppose it have an obligation to say what in the alternative is going to work better.
I guarantee you, since we had enrichment all through the years leading up to 2003, 2004, onwards, we have seen this program growing. And the – we’ve seen the breakout time shrinking. Now we see the breakout time growing and the program shrinking. And we think over time that will help us to have assurance about the nature of this program.
QUESTION: There’s been a lot of talk here in Lausanne about UN sanctions. Is there a snapback function in place that would make it less difficult for China and Russia to sort of step in the way of any pushback on sanctions that you all saw fit to put in place?
SECRETARY KERRY: There is a guarantee of a snapback, and we are working on exactly what the modality will be to guarantee the automaticity of that snapback. We have – the Russians actually proposed a very effective way of making it automatic, so we’re very grateful to them for that contribution. And that’s one of the items that has to be locked in. But the fact of a snapback is not at issue, and we believe that that’s going to be a very important part of the long-term accountability here.
But we also have to understand that there is a point where Iran will be a normal NPT country, but it will do so with very long-lasting additions in terms of verification that have never existed before. For instance, for 25 years, we will have access to the uranium mining, milling; the yellowcake which leads to the production of uranium, et cetera, enrichment. We will be tracking all of that, including the end product. So there’s a great deal of accountability built into this, and we ask people to stop and take a look at it and compare it to any prior agreements we had with the former Soviet Union, that we’ve had with other people through history.
QUESTION: Lastly, so fresh off of such a laborious negotiation here, where do you put the chances of being able to reach a comprehensive agreement by the end of June?
SECRETARY KERRY: I just don’t rate it and I don’t want to rate it. It’s a tough negotiation. These were very tough, but we approached it in a serious way. I hope over the course of the next months we can close the gaps that exist. We will tighten things up that need to be tightened. We can continue to provide the kind of confidence that everybody obviously wants to have about something like this. We believe we’re on the path to doing that, and the test will be what happens over the course of the next three months.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, thank you for your time.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thanks. Great to be with you.