Interview With Joe Madison on SiriusXM

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Via Telephone
Washington, DC
September 3, 2015

QUESTION: Secretary of State John Kerry, thank you so much for being on the Madison Show. Let me start with our friend, attorney Alan Dershowitz, who was here on SiriusXM, our channel Urban View, making the rounds. And he made a comment that, look, the deal’s going to take place, but he’s not happy with the deal. And I’d like to play something he said to one of my colleagues and then, if you don’t mind, allow you to respond.

SECRETARY KERRY: Sure. No, I’m happy to, Joe. And thanks for having me on.

QUESTION: All right. Let’s do that. Here’s what Alan Dershowitz had said about the agreement.

MR DERSHOWITZ: (Via recording) We don’t know exactly what the deal says. That’s our problem. We’re buying a pig in a poke. Is it a 10-year deal? The President, when he first announced it, said if we can stop them from getting nuclear weapons in 10 years we’ve succeeded. Then he said it’s a forever deal. Maybe it’s a 15-year deal. We have to know what it is that’s in the deal. We also have to know why the President gave up 24/7 inspection and allowed 24-day inspection. What are they hiding? Are they intending to cheat? I think this deal makes it more likely that Iran will develop a nuclear weapon.

QUESTION: All right. And I’d love to get your response --

SECRETARY KERRY: Yeah, no, I’d be delighted to respond. I know Alan and I consider him a friend, and he’s a very, very smart man, but he’s just incorrect in what he has said. We do know what this deal says. We know that it is a lifetime deal with different stages of additional requirements put on Iran. That’s very simply what it is.

For instance, there is a 10-year set of requirements which are additional that we negotiated, which require them to roll back their program, limit their research on development on centrifuges, destroy most of their stockpile of fissile material, limit their enrichment to 3.67 percent. It’s all there in bold print. And that expands the breakout time for 10 years to 1 year or more. Now, that’s the beginning.

Then there’s a 15-year set of requirements. Among them, most importantly, that they’re limited to 300 kilograms of a stockpile, and they cannot enrich more than 3.67 percent. You cannot physically make a bomb at that level of enrichment. Then there’s an additional requirement of scrutiny for 20 years where the televisions will be watching the production of the components of their centrifuges. So we’ll have centrifuge accountability.

Then there’s a 25-year component of additional scrutiny, which follows the traces, the uranium production in their mine from the mine to the mill to the production of the material that goes into the centrifuge – the yellowcake and then the gas and then the waste that comes out. Now, all of that is happening. But as they work to show that their program is peaceful and after the years have gone by, then they have to live by something called the Additional Protocol, which is completely spelled out and printed out – and Alan Dershowitz can read it – and it says that they have to submit to inspection on an ongoing basis for declared or undeclared facilities where we suspect it may be being used for illicit purposes. And Joe, they have to do that forever.

So it’s very clear what this agreement is. Now the fact is we know also that the President didn’t give up 24/7. Twenty-four/seven applies to the daily inspections of their declared facilities, and we have that – forever, I might add. What we – what Alan Dershowitz is missing is the Additional Protocol and the responsibilities they have to live up to under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which requires those inspections.

Now, there is a 24-day component here where we’ve negotiated a once – a really unique effort. The 24-day requirement is actually the first time that we’ve created a process of closing out the ability of Iran or any country not to allow inspections. So they get a 24-hour notice, and they have to let us in. And the outside period of time that they could not do that before we take action is 24 days.

So the 24 days is an outside period of time. It could happen within one day, seven days, six days. The important thing is that you can’t hide nuclear material. It’s impossible to hide it in 24 days or 24 years. You can’t hide it. And that’s why we believe this agreement is sound, it will allow us to hold Iran accountable, and I just disagree with the conclusion that Mr. Dershowitz came to.

QUESTION: The second question – and let me ask this and forgive if this seems a rather naive question: Who does the inspections?

SECRETARY KERRY: The inspections are done by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is an agency within the UN structure, but it’s an independent agency under the UN structure. And we actually train the inspectors. So we’re training the inspectors who will go in – it’s international personnel who are trained by the United States, they work for the IAEA, and they will go in and inspect and there will be an additional 150 inspectors who will go in under this agreement.

QUESTION: There is also a question of whether or not the next president of the United States – because as you outlined this – 10 years, 15 years, and then forever – that means that, really, the bulk of this agreement certainly is going to fall in the lap of whoever is the next president of the United States. What keeps the next president from abandoning, changing, or undermining this agreement?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, it’s a very good question and let me just say to you that I think the bulk of this agreement, if it is approved in the next week or two, it has to begin to be implemented immediately, right away, while President Obama is here. And the estimate is that it would take about half a year to a year for them to do all the things they have to do before they get any sanctions relief. So that would happen under President Obama, actually. And then after it’s been done, when they’ve expanded the breakout time to one year, that’s when the sanctions relief would begin. You’d have a new president who would be there after Iran has completely rolled back their program, dismantled two-thirds of their centrifuges, destroyed 98 percent of their stockpile, limited their enrichment. For someone to come in new and just throw all of that out of the window absolutely doesn’t make sense, and I’m willing to bet you that at that point in time, if that were the choice presented, 90 percent of the nation would say, well, it’s working – we’re going to live with it now until Iran breaks it or something. And I think you would not see somebody undo this program.

QUESTION: It is also being said that this agreement could bring about greater stability to the Middle East, it could open up cooperation among other states, and provide security like – because people are very concerned about ISIL or ISIS. How does this impact security and our concerns about this terrorist organization, ISIS?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, I tell you, I don’t know whether it opens up an opportunity. I hope it opens up an opportunity, but I’m not basing my support for this agreement on that hope. If it happens, terrific. And we want Iran to undertake a different approach to the world and we hope it will, but we’re not waiting for that as a matter of this agreement. But on the other hand, with respect to ISIL, Iran is already fighting ISIL. Iran is against ISIL and Iran wants to join with other countries in helping to fight ISIL. I mean, one of the things we have going for us in the region is that every country – every country – is opposed to ISIL. So hopefully, if a new opportunity arises to engage with Iran, it may be possible that down the road there is some kind of new opportunity or cooperation, but we’re not – we haven’t engaged in that discussion yet, and that’s not part of this agreement directly.

QUESTION: All right. Final question: Headlines tomorrow all over the country is going to be that Donald Trump has signed a pledge to support anyone who is nominated in the Republican Party. Would you, as Secretary of State, like to see the Republicans sign a pledge that they’ll live up to this agreement that you worked so hard for? (Laughter.)

SECRETARY KERRY: Joe, I got to tell you, one of the great virtues of my position is I’m out of politics. I’m involved in representing our country to every country in the world, so I just don’t get involved in the presidential race, and it’s a good place to be.

QUESTION: But it’d be a nice pledge for them to sign, wouldn’t it be?

SECRETARY KERRY: (Laughter.) Well, you spoke the words; I’m out of the politics right now and I’ll let --

QUESTION: All right.

SECRETARY KERRY: -- I’ll let the nominees and the candidates of both parties work all that out.

QUESTION: All right. And I’ll let you be diplomatic, how’s that?

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, sir.

QUESTION: (Laughter.)


QUESTION: Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Joe, you take care now. Thanks a lot.

QUESTION: All right. Thank you.