Following months of negotiating and extending talk deadlines with Iran, Secretary of State John Kerry went to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to defend the Iran nuclear but faced major backlash from Congressional lawmakers. Kerry along with Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew strongly defended the historical deal reached between Iran and the P5+1 nations aimed at halting Tehran’s nuclear program.
Kerry called upon his congressional critics to endorse the deal saying that walking away would send a “problematic” message internationally. Republican members of the Foreign Relations Committee raised a serious of issues with both the deal and Iran’s support of terrorism, Islamist ideology, and its holding of Americans in its prisons. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and Chris Smith of New Jersey, raised issues such as Cuba and the State Department’s human trafficking report, then cut off Kerry’s answers by pointing out they only had five minutes of speaking time. Kerry attempted several times to talk over the lawmakers.
Secretary Kerry said the administration is in conversations with Iran about the Americans held in Iran. Three Americans are being held in an Iranian prison which include, Marine Amir Hekmati, Pastor Saeed Abedini and Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian. Iran is also suspected of holding former FBI agent Robert Levinson prisoner though the Islamic nation denies it. “That’s all I’m going to say here today,” Kerry said. “And I hope they will be returned to be with their families.”
Kerry during his discussion of the decision to walk away said, “If we walk away, we walk away alone. Our partners are not going to be with us,” Kerry said. “Instead they will walk away from the tough multilateral sanctions that brought Iran to the negotiating table in the first place. And we will have squandered the best chance that we have to solve this problem through peaceful means.”
Both Democrat and Republican lawmakers have aired their concerns about the details of the nuclear deal. Congressional Republicans — are dubious of the Obama administration’s assertion that the alternative to the Iran nuclear deal is war. Lawmakers have also expressed concern about the overall impact of lifting financial sanctions on Iran. Republican Rep. Ed Royce called the deal a financial windfall for Iran.
Kerry reiterated the idea that there was a better alternative possible to the deal negotiated with Iran was akin to a “unicorn fantasy.” He insisted that the agreement was not based on trust but rather verification. Congress now has 60 days to review the nuclear deal with Iran. It’s appears unlikely that Congress will have a veto-proof majority. Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee on Saturday called the Iran deal “idiotic,” and compared it to the Holocaust, saying that President Barack Obama will ultimately “take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.” Obama has threatened to veto any attempt to reject the accord.