Secretary of State John Kerry complained to The Atlantic that Congress rejecting the Iran deal would be the “ultimate screwing” of the Islamic Republic.
“The ayatollah constantly believed that we are untrustworthy, that you can’t negotiate with us, that we will screw them,” Kerry said in the interview with Jeffrey Goldberg.
“The United States Congress will prove the ayatollah’s suspicion, and there’s no way he’s ever coming back. He will not come back to negotiate. Out of dignity, out of a suspicion that you can’t trust America. America is not going to negotiate in good faith. It didn’t negotiate in good faith now, would be his point.”
Kerry also said that Foreign Minister Javad Zarif is promising the U.S. other things — if Congress approves the deal.
“Zarif specifically said to me in the last two weeks, ‘If we get this finished, I am now empowered to work with and talk to you about regional issues,’” Kerry said. “This is in Congress’s hands. If Congress says no, Congress will shut that down, shut off that conversation, set this back, and set in motion a series of inevitables about what would happen with respect to Iranian behavior, and, by the way, the sanctions will be over.”
Kerry also insisted he’s “gone through this backwards and forwards a hundred times and I’m telling you, this deal is as pro-Israel, as pro-Israel’s security, as it gets.”
There’s “a huge level of fear and mistrust and, frankly, there’s an inherent sense that, given Iran’s gains and avoidance in the past, that somehow they’re going to avoid something again,” he said. “It’s a visceral feeling, it’s very emotional and visceral and I’m very in tune with that and very sensitive to that.”
Kerry said he doesn’t know if Iran saying it wants to wipe Israel off the map means they actually want to wipe Israel off the map.
“I don’t know the answer to that,” he said. “I haven’t seen anything that says to me—they’ve got 80,000 rockets in Hezbollah pointed at Israel, and any number of choices could have been made. They didn’t make the bomb when they had enough material for 10 to 12. They’ve signed on to an agreement where they say they’ll never try and make one and we have a mechanism in place where we can prove that. So I don’t want to get locked into that debate. I think it’s a waste of time here.”
Asked if he’s bothered that Iran’s cash windfall will be funding Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and Hezbollah, the secretary of State replied, “Yes, but it’s not dispositive. It’s not money that’s going to make a difference ultimately in what is happening.”