US Secretary of State John Kerry. (AP/Molly Riley) (AP/Molly Riley)
US Secretary of State John Kerry

Secretary of State John Kerry said the US was working to repair its ties with Israel, but criticized Prime Minister Netanyahu for his disapproval of the nuclear deal with Iran.

Iran deal

EU High Representative Mogherini (L), Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif, Head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization Salehi, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, British Foreign Secretary Hammond and US Secretary of State Kerry during the signing of the Vienna accords. (Joe Klamar/AP)

Days after signing a deal with Iran regarding its nuclear program, Secretary of State John Kerry has been taking every opportunity to defend the accord, saying it’s the safest deal possible and that there was no better alternative.

The agreement has added stress to the already-tense relationship between Washington and Jerusalem. Kerry conceded that the Obama administration was aware of the need to “reestablish normal relations with Israel again,” as they have been “badly frayed by this Iran agreement.”

“I talked to Prime Minister Netanyahu yesterday. I have talked to him regularly throughout this process,” Kerry said in an American television interview with PBS on Friday.

“And we are absolutely, by far, more linked day to day in the security relationship with Israel than at any time in history. President Obama is prepared to upgrade that, to work to do more to be able to address specific concerns,” he stated.

Defending the deal, Kerry said that the US still believes that “Israel will be safer with a one-year breakout for the 10 years than two months.”

In an implied attack on Netanyahu, who repeatedly charged that the US was pursuing a bad deal and that they should push for a better one, Kerry insisted that “there’s no alternative being provided by all these other people. They all say, oh, why didn’t you crush them with the sanctions? I will tell you why. Because they won’t be crushed by sanctions. That’s been proven. And because we will lose the other people who are helping to provide those sanctions. They are not going to do that if Iran is willing to make a reasonable agreement.”

Any notions of better alternatives to the signed deal were unrealistic, he continued. “There is a lot of fantasy out there about this — quote — ‘better deal.’ The fact is that we spent four years putting together an agreement that had the consent of Russia, China, France, Germany, Great Britain and Iran. That is not easy. And I believe the agreement we got withstands scrutiny and will deliver an Iran that cannot get a nuclear weapon.”

Israeli Minister of Energy Yuval Steinitz, who is also entrusted with the Iran portfolio, rejected Kerry’s remarks and said a better deal could have been achieved.
“To the best of our professional assessment, these [Kerry’s] words are baseless,” said Steinitz on Sunday, according to Israel’s IDF Radio, “You can easily think of a better agreement.”
He demanded that all of Iran’s previous nuclear-related activities be exposed, as is the international custom in these cases, and said that the current situation is merely “a smear job” that avoids the issue.

Regarding the fear that Iran will use the billions it gets when the sanctions are removed to fuel its global terror network, Kerry said that the deal “wasn’t intended to get at anything else” besides the nuclear program.

When asked what the US was prepared to do about this, Kerry responded by saying, “Well, we’re going to clamp down. They’re not allowed to do that. They’re not allowed to do that, outside even of this agreement. There is a UN resolution that specifically applies to them not being allowed to transfer to Hezbollah. They are specifically not allowed under another UN resolution to transfer to the Shia militia in Iraq. They are specifically not allowed to transfer to the Houthis.”

The US was “laying down the steps we will take to work with our friends and allies in the region to push back against this behavior,” he added

Regarding the appropriation of funds, Kerry seemed less confident. “With respect to the money, I can’t tell you that some — you know, some amount of money might not find its way to some effort.”

By: United with Israel Staff

 

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