U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has warned members of Congress that walking away from the nuclear deal reached with Iran would mean giving Tehran a “green light” to return to its enrichment efforts.
“The alternative to the deal we've reached isn't a better deal... some kind of unicorn fantasy that contemplates Iran's complete capitulation," Kerry said.
Testifying publicly before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Kerry told skeptical members that the Iran nuclear deal was not intended to reform the country’s hard-line regime but prevent the building of an atomic bomb.
"This plan was designed to address the nuclear issue alone, not to reform Iran's regime, or end its support for terrorism, or its contributions to sectarian violence in the Middle East," Kerry said.
Joined by two other members of President Barack Obama's cabinet, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, Kerry defended the Iran nuclear deal for a second time since July 23.
Kerry said that if the United States walked away from the deal, its international partners would not follow.
"If we walk away, we walk away alone. Our partners are not going to be with us. Instead, they'll walk away from the tough multilateral sanctions that brought Iran to the negotiating table in the first place," he said.
Last week, senior Republican senators accused Kerry of being “fleeced” by Iran during the difficult nuclear negotiations.
"Iran has cheated on every agreement they've signed," said Ed Royce (Republican-California), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee said.
Kerry said that “nothing in this deal is built on trust. Nothing.”
U.S. Representative Eliot Engel of New York, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, suggested that the deal might just be pushing the “pause button” on Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon in 15 years.
Kerry reiterated that because of the deal, Iran is “permanently banned” from developing a nuclear weapon and many of the restrictions would be in place “not just for 15 or 20 years, but for the lifetime” of the nuclear program.
Meanwhile, one of the most prominent Jewish Democrats in the House of Representatives, Sander Levin of Michigan, said that he is backing the Iran nuclear deal.
Levin, a strong supporter of Israel, said the deal "offers the best option to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon."
This marks a major gain for the Obama administration in their search for support on the nuclear deal.
The Republican-controlled Congress has until September 17 to review the deal, which aims to curb Iran's nuclear program in exchange for relief from international economic sanctions.
Based on reporting by dpa, AP, and Reuters