US Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday that any future Israeli military action against Iran over its nuclear program would be a “huge mistake.”
Asked on NBC’s TODAY show if the nuclear deal signed between the world powers and Iran last week in Vienna would make it more likely that Israel would attempt an attack, Kerry said: “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.”
He added: “Iran would then have a reason to say, ‘Well, this is why we need the bomb.'”
Kerry is on a fervent campaign to promote the nuclear accord, which has been met with opposition, mainly from Israel and Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.
He was speaking about the deal on Friday at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City and was then set to meet with leaders from the American Jewish Committee and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Some Jewish groups, including the Conference of Presidents and the Anti-Defamation League, have vehemently opposed the deal with Iran, which has pledged to destroy Israel.
In his NBC interview Friday, Kerry said the agreement was the best the White House could get with a country it doesn’t trust.
Taking on the argument by opponents of the deal that a better agreement could have been reached — one that would not leave it a nuclear threshold state, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has argued — the secretary of state said, “the alternative is to have no inspectors, not know what Iran is doing, go back to where they are today with the ability to make the bomb.”
Congress has started a 60-day review of the agreement, which lifts economic sanctions against Iran if it curbs its nuclear program’s capacity to build a nuclear weapon.
It is set to vote on the deal by September 17.
US Secretary of State John Kerry warned Friday that should Congress vote against the Iranian nuclear deal signed last week in Vienna, Israel could find itself more isolated in the international arena and “more blamed.”
“I fear that what could happen is that, if Congress were to overturn it, our friends in Israel could actually wind up being more isolated. And more blamed. 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 the next few years,” Kerry told an audience at the Council of Foreign Relations in New York.
“I fear that what could happen is that, if Congress were to overturn it, our friends in Israel could actually wind up being more isolated. And more blamed. And we would lose Europe and China and Russia with respect to whatever military action we might have to take.
The statement was promptly rejected by the former Israeli ambassador to the United States Michael Oren, now a member of the centrist Kulanu party.
“If American legislators reject the nuclear deal, they will do so exclusively on the basis of US interests. The threat of the secretary of state who, in the past, warned that Israel was in danger of becoming an apartheid state, cannot deter us from fulfilling our national duty to oppose this dangerous deal,” Oren said in a statement.
Earlier Friday, Kerry warned that any future Israeli military action against Iran over its nuclear program would be an “enormous mistake.”
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog, head of the Zionist Union party, said he would work with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling coalition to thwart the Iran nuclear deal.
“Now Iran is out of the cage and will become a regional tiger,” Herzog said last week, calling the agreement “a complex challenge that mandates cooperation on understanding the threat and on finding solutions.”
Israel’s former ambassador to the United States Michael Oren hit back sharply at US Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday evening, warning that his earlier comments suggesting Israel could be blamed if Congress rejects the agreement with Iran on its nuclear activity would not deter Israel.
“If American legislators reject the nuclear deal, they will do so exclusively on the basis of US interests. The threat of the secretary of state who, in the past, warned that Israel was in danger of becoming an apartheid state, cannot deter us from fulfilling our national duty to oppose this dangerous deal,” Oren, now a member of the centrist Kulanu party, said in a statement Friday.
Last year, amid a collapse of the US-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, Kerry reportedly warned that Israel was in danger of becoming an apartheid state — a comment he later walked back.
Oren has butted heads with the US since he published a series of essays last month criticizing the Obama administration, ahead of the release of his memoir on the Israel-US relationship, “Ally.”
In June, he penned three opinion pieces that received mixed reactions from US political figures and the Jewish community: “How Obama abandoned Israel” in the Wall Street Journal; followed by “Why Obama is wrong about Iran being ‘rational’ on nukes,” in the Los Angeles Times; and, in Foreign Policy Magazine, “How Obama Opened His Heart to the ‘Muslim World.”
Israel and the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC have kicked off a major lobbying campaign against the deal, with hundreds of pro-Israel activists from across the country descending on Capitol Hill next week to press members of Congress to reject the agreement.
Netanyahu earlier this week also urged US lawmakers to combat Iranian aggression by rejecting the nuclear deal.
Kerry warned Friday that it would be embarrassing to him and a blow to US credibility on the world stage if Congress rejects the deal.
The head of Iran’s atomic agency said Friday that his country has not signed any separate agreement regarding UN inspections at its Parchin military complex, the Iranian media reported.
“The AEOI and the IAEA do not have any separate agreement on visiting the Parchin military site,” Ali Akbar Salehi told the state-run ICANA news agency, referring to the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran and the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency, respectively.
The IAEA twice inspected Parchin, an installation some 30 km southeast of Tehran, a decade ago, and is now requesting further visits. The UN suspects that nuclear testing has been conducted at the site.
Salehi’s remarks appear to contradict a clause in the so-called road map signed by him and IAEA chief Yukiya Amano on July 14, which Amano called “clarification of past and present outstanding issues regarding Iran’s nuclear program.”
According to the joint statement released by the two at the time, “Iran and the IAEA agreed on another separate arrangement regarding the issue of Parchin.” Amano’s individual statement at the time reiterates that the road map contains “a separate arrangement regarding the issue of Parchin.”
Mansour Haqiqatpour, the vice chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, earlier this week also expressed Tehran’s opposition to a further Parchin inspection,
Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency reported.
Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency reported.
“Despite Iran’s goodwill measures, the IAEA has unfortunately once again requested visiting the Parchin military site,” Fars quoted Haqiqatpour as saying.
US lawmakers opposed to the Iran agreement cite “secret side deals” within it, among them provisions for inspections of Parchin. These provisions were not previously revealed to Congress as part of its 60-day review process of the deal, something that is required by law.
Turkish jets flying from a base in Turkey’s southeast struck Islamic State group targets across the border in Syria for the second straight night, the government said Saturday. The fighter jets also hit camps belonging to Kurdish militants in northern Iraq.
It was the first time Turkish jets have struck Kurds in northern Iraq since a peace deal was announced in 2013 between Ankara and the rebel group, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. The group has been fighting Turkey for autonomy since 1984 and is considered a terrorist organization by Ankara and its allies.
The jets hit PKK shelters, bunkers, caves, storages facilities and other “logistical points,” the statement said. Areas targeted included the Qandil mountains, where the PKK’s command is based. The statement did not specify IS targets that were struck in Syria but described the airstrikes as being “effective.”
Tensions have flared with Kurds in recent days after an IS suicide bombing in the southeastern Turkish city of Suruc on Monday killed 32 people. Kurdish groups blame the Turkish government for not combatting IS.
Turkey started attacking IS positions after the suicide bombing and an IS ambush that killed a Turkish soldier.
On Friday, three F-16 jets struck IS targets that included two command centers and a gathering point near the Turkish border in Syria. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said nine IS militants were killed in the raids.
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