Interview with Andrea Mitchell of NBC

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Lausanne, Switzerland
April 2, 2015

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, President Obama said if Iran cheats, we will know it. How can you be so sure? They’ve cheated before.

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, we have extraordinary, extensive verification measures that have not been applied before. We will have state-of-the-art television cameras within centrifuge production facilities. We will have cradle-to-grave tracking of uranium – uranium from the mine to the mill to the yellowcake to gas to the centrifuge to out and where it goes in spent fuel. So we have – that is an amazing amount – and we have a new dispute process which will allow us to be able to finalize access where we need it.

So we are – we feel very strongly that there’s going to be joint venturing. There are people who are going to be in there, whether it’s China or Korea or France or one country or another. There’ll be a lot of insight into the Iranian program. We already have a lot. And we’ve found over the course of the last months that the interim agreement everybody agrees has been lived up to and nobody therefore is feeling that we don’t have the ability to be able to put the tracking in place that we need.

QUESTION: Critics have said that you’re not accounting for past suspicious activity – warheads, missiles. What about past activity?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, we – actually we’ve accounted for it. We know they have them. (Laughter.) And we also know they did some things. We absolutely do, and I can’t go into all the details of that. But we’re going forward to be able to prevent them from doing those kinds of things, and we are very, very confident about the regime that is in place. There’s an additional protocol which has to be applied, which hasn’t been in Iran, which is required by the NPT now. They’ve agreed to accept it, ratify it, live by it. There’s beyond that several different codes that will be applied. And there are new measures that have never been applied, like radio transmitter seals on centrifuges so you don’t have to wait for the inspector to go in. You get an instantaneous knowledge that something’s being tampered with.

So there’s just lots of things here, and obviously we’re going to have to be vigilant. But you can’t develop the bomb without the uranium, and you have to have the enriched uranium, and that’s why we’ve limited enrichment. There will be no enrichment in facilities where it had been previously. No fissile material in those facilities. And we will have inspectors on a regular basis in there determining that.

So we feel very strongly that the knowledgeable expert community as they look at this is going to have a sense of confidence, and that’s something we’ve been doing a lot of work to ascertain before we reached an agreement.

QUESTION: What about Congress? They’re not always the knowledgeable scientific community, even after being briefed.

SECRETARY KERRY: Congress will – Congress I know will spend the time and look at this closely. And some have already made up their minds and there’s sort of an automatic response; we understand that. But I think most senators and congressmen are going to want to see this, examine it; talk to people, listen to the experts. And that’s what we ask them to do – make a judgment based on facts.

QUESTION: Mr. Zarif said that there will be no sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran. But you haven’t agreed on the timing of when the sanctions are --

SECRETARY KERRY: No, we haven’t agreed on the lifting. Well, he’s right in the sense that when the agreement is over, there won’t be. So that’s a correct statement, ultimately. But in the meantime there will be restrictions and restraints. The arms embargo, the ballistic missile – those haven’t been lifted. So we will – those are things we need to continue to negotiate. What’s the timing? What’s the methodology? But we’re approaching it very carefully in order to be certain about what happens.

QUESTION: Yet he read a very boilerplate statement, and the fact sheet that you and the President released is much more specific. If you couldn’t agree on standing up together and announcing together exactly what you’ve agreed on here, what makes you think that in the next three months --

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, we have internal – we --

QUESTION: -- you’re going to actually come to an agreement?

SECRETARY KERRY: Because there’s a great deal of difference for them between what happens now and where this goes and what can happen when you have a final signature. And there are a lot of things that get worked out that are important to them in that context that don’t get worked out now in terms of limitations. So we fully understand that and, in fact, we discussed it at great length. There are internal documents that people are working with which are quite specific and --

QUESTION: You think you can get a deal by June?

SECRETARY KERRY: I hope. I – look, it’s really dependent on the same kind of willingness to negotiate that we just found here. You can’t negotiate just one party. You got to have – anybody who is a party to the negotiation has to be engaged and working at it. So we’ll see. I’m not promising anything, nor is the President. What we’ve done is open up the opportunity. We have a chance now to work with Congress, to answer questions, to look at this carefully, negotiate it out in an appropriate way, and seal the deal. But the people I’ve talked to who have just become aware of where we are seem to be quite satisfied that this is much stronger than they thought it would be.

QUESTION: Now you’ve been locked in a room without sleep. I don’t know about food and water, but are you aware of the impact you’ve had on Switzerland? The pizza --

SECRETARY KERRY: I have no sense, no.

QUESTION: -- the biking, the whole “John Kerry/pop culture craze”?

SECRETARY KERRY: No, I have no sense of it. I haven’t seen anything. I’m sleep deprived. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: We’ll fill you in later.


QUESTION: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary.

SECRETARY KERRY: It’s a pleasure.

QUESTION: Thanks for taking time.