U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday warned that if Congress does not approve the deal recently signed with Iran, Israel might be blamed for it and become more isolated.
Kerry’s comments came in a speech at the Council of Foreign Relations in New York.
“I fear that what could happen is if Congress were to overturn [the deal], our friends in Israel could actually wind up being more isolated and more blamed,” he said. “And we would lose Europe and China and Russia with respect to whatever military action we might have to take because we will have turned our backs on a very legitimate program that allows us to put their program to the test over these next years.”
The deal, he argued, means “safety and security, I believe, for Israel and the region that no alternative presents.”
“People ask me, well, what happens after year 15? What happens 20 years and 25 years from now and so forth? The fact is that if we don’t accept this agreement, if we don’t keep with this agreement and put it to the test, year 15 or year 20 comes tomorrow, literally, because Iran already has enough nuclear material for 10 to 12 bombs,” warned Kerry.
The Secretary of State boasted of his support for Israel at the Senate and his attempts to bring about peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the past year.
“I think I’ve had more meetings with an Israeli prime minister and more visits than any secretary of State in history. And I consider Bibi [Netanyahu] a friend, and we talk still. And we disagree on this, obviously, and I’ve told him my feelings. But I feel them very strongly,” he said.
“I believe Israel is safer [with the deal]. I believe the region is safer. I think the world is safer,” claimed Kerry. “We have a country that is prepared to day they will not make a nuclear weapon, and I think we ought to put that to the test rather than take steps today to guarantee we give them a reason to go do that. It’s a pretty simple equation.”
Kerry also sought to assure his audience that “nothing in this agreement is based on trust—nothing. We’re not naïve. We know the history. We know what Iran is doing in the region—Yemen, Iraq Shia militia, Hezbollah. But the first order of business, my friends, if you’re going to confront them and push back, is to push back against an Iran that doesn’t have a nuclear weapon. Pretty simple equation.”
The talk at the Council of Foreign Relations came hours after Kerry warned Israel that a unilateral strike on Iran's covert nuclear program would be a "huge mistake."
Appearing on NBC, Kerry was asked if the Iran nuclear deal sealed last Tuesday would make it more likely that Israel will either physically strike Iran's nuclear facilities, or else launch a cyber attack against them.
"That'd be an enormous mistake, a huge mistake with grave consequences for Israel and for the region, and I don't think it's necessary," Kerry answered.
Washington and Jerusalem are divided over the Iran deal, with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu having repeatedly warned that it is a bad deal. This week, Netanyahu reiterated his warning in a meeting with Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović.
“We are told that this agreement will prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. Well, that's exactly what was said about the deal with North Korea. And today, North Korea has about a dozen nuclear weapons and it’s on its way to get many, many more,” said Netanyahu.
“This deal paves Iran's path to an entire nuclear arsenal within a decade or so,” he warned. “Because at that point Iran will be free of any constraints of producing as many centrifuges as they want and they can enrich as much uranium as they want. And this will pose a formidable threat to the peace of the world.”
In Friday’s remarks, Kerry was quick to dismiss the comparison with North Korea.
“Unlike North Korea, they (the Iranians -ed.) have not pulled out of the NPT. Unlike North Korea, they haven’t exploded any nuclear device, and the supreme leader of Iran has said, we’re not going to seek a nuclear weapon,” he said.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)