US Secretary of State John Kerry continued to urge support for the Iran nuclear agreement in Philadelphia's National Constitution Center today (Wednesday).
"Without this agreement, Iran's so-called breakout time was about two months," he began. "With this agreement it will increase by a factor of six, to at least a year, and will remain at that level for a decade or more."
The bulk of the speech was aimed at countering critics, both domestic and foreign. Kerry acknowledged multiple times that Iran is a dangerous and untrustworthy partner: "Critics tell us over and over again 'You can't trust Iran.' Well guess what? There's not a single sentence, not a single paragraph in this whole agreement that relies on promises and trust. Not one."
In response to the concern that Iran will receive billions of dollars in sanctions relief and then continue to break its obligation, he insisted that any relief would be strictly tied to Iran's performance. Should it be necessary, he suggested that the US and European countries could reinstate sanctions even without the support of permanent UN Security Council members Russia and China.
As for fears that Iran would try to hide its activity during the 24 days it has to prepare for inspections, the Secretary insisted that the attitude is based on a faulty understanding of nuclear physics. "There is no way in 24 days, or 24 years, to destroy any evidence of fissible materials," he said.
Furthermore, he stated that the deal forbids Iran from ever developing nuclear weapons. Even after the restrictions end, Iran would be required to regularly check in with the International Atomic Energy Agency "forever." And, as he says, "The United States and the international community will be monitoring Iran non-stop."
Should the deal supporters be proven wrong and Iran does develop nuclear weapons, Kerry threatened that "it will regret breaking any promise that it has made." He added that the US is not afraid to use force, though did not explicitly say how or when it would do so.
Kerry spent a significant portion of his talk answering Israel's concerns. He first downplayed the fact that Iranians continue to publicly chant "Death to Israel" and "Down with America," claiming that the same people also chant "Death to [Iranian President] Hassan Rouhani."
He then repeated that the US will still "oppose every effort to delegitimize the Jewish state or pass biased resolutions" at the United Nations.
About an hour before Kerry began his speech, Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski announced that she will support the deal. She is the 34th senator to do so, meaning that opponents do not have enough votes to overcome a presidential veto.