QUESTION: Gentlemen, welcome to Fox News Sunday.
SECRETARY KERRY: My pleasure to be with you.
QUESTION: President Obama and both of you talked about insisting on anytime, anywhere inspections. But what you ended up with is that Iran can keep us out of its most secret, most suspicious sites for up to 24 days.
Secretary Kerry, three and a half weeks is not anytime, anywhere.
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, that’s not accurate that we ever – I never, in four years, had a discussion about anywhere, anytime. That is —
QUESTION: Secretary Moniz did —
SECRETARY KERRY: Before he came into this negotiation; he did not. Not in the course of this negotiation.
QUESTION: President Obama on April 2nd, he said this:
PRESIDENT OBAMA: “If Iran cheats, the world will know it. If we see something suspicious, we will inspect it.”
SECRETARY KERRY: That’s accurate.
QUESTION: He didn’t say in 24 days.
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, Chris, don’t play a game here. The fact is that in arms control there is no country anywhere on this planet that has anywhere, anytime. There is no such standard within arms control inspections. There is an IAEA process for which we have negotiated a unique ability to be able to bring cloture. The reason we’re in this predicament right now is the IAEA has never been able to close the deal.
We have created a mechanism by which we would go to the United Nations. One country can take this to the Security Council, and we have the ability to snap back all the sanctions or to put any sanction on we want; hold them in material breach if they do not give us access. That’s never existed previously.
But we never, ever had a discussion about anywhere, anytime. It’s called managed access. It’s under the IAEA. Everybody understands it. And the intelligence community has made clear to us, as they did before we signed on to this deal, that we would be able to know what they are doing during that intervening period of time.
QUESTION: Of course, the question is: Managed access – is that good enough? And in his news conference this week, Secretary Moniz, the President said, look, you can’t hide whatever they’re doing, if they are doing something in violation, in a closet in 24 days. But there are plenty of arms experts, nuclear experts out there that say you can hide plenty of stuff in three and a half weeks. That’s almost a month, sir.
SECRETARY MONIZ: Let me clarify first. Let me read the rest of the sentence. I said managed – I said access anytime, anywhere, in the sense of a well-defined procedure and a well-defined time window to resolve it. So that’s – first of all I want to clarify that.
Second of all, what will happen is, if the process runs the full length of 24 days, the IAEA inspectors will take environmental samples. When environmental samples are taken and nuclear activity has taken place, it is virtually impossible to clean up that place. You can paint the floors, you can do what you want; we feel very confident that one would find the evidence of nuclear activity.
QUESTION: Under this deal, we lift the arms embargo on Iran being able to buy weapons and even ballistic missiles between five and eight years. And the sanctions against General Soleimani, head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Qods Force, are also lifted. What we end up with, Secretary Kerry, is an Iran with billions, hundreds of billions of dollars more, able to buy weapons, and a Revolutionary Guard with fewer restraints. Isn’t that potentially an even more dangerous state sponsor of terror in the Middle East?
SECRETARY KERRY: First of all, Chris, don’t exaggerate. It’s not hundreds of billions of dollars. It’s $100 billion.
QUESTION: That’s in the first year.
SECRETARY KERRY: But – it’s their money that they have had frozen.
QUESTION: I understand. But it’s a hundred —
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, let me – but let me just finish.
QUESTION: A hundred fifty billion is the first year.
SECRETARY KERRY: Please. Chris, this is not supposed to be a debate. You’re supposed to ask a question and we’re supposed to be able to answer it. Let me answer your question. Your question said, “What happens in terms of that period of time to Soleimani and other.” This is a nuclear negotiation about a nuclear program. The United Nations, when they passed the resolution, contemplated that if Iran came to the negotiation and they ponied up, all the sanctions would be lifted. We didn’t lift all the sanctions. We left in place despite the fact that three out of seven countries negotiating wanted to do away with them altogether. We won the five years for the arms and eight years for the missiles.
But we have many other sanctions still applicable, and we can bring other sanctions to push back against any of their behavior. They’re not allowed to send arms to Hizballah. That’s a separate resolution. They’re not allowed to send arms to the Shia militia in Iraq. A separate resolution. They’re not allowed to send arms to the Houthis. Separate resolution. So we, in fact, have a huge ability to be able to bring any number of efforts against Iran for any bad behavior here whatsoever.
QUESTION: Do we have any kind of understanding, because you’ve come under criticism when they, at the last minute, brought in “let’s lift the arms embargo,” that you didn’t insist on getting the three Americans released. Do we have any kind of understanding that Iran will release those hostages soon?
SECRETARY KERRY: Let me just say to you that at every single meeting everywhere in the world that ever took place with the Iranians, we have raised the issue of the American citizens and we are working on the issue of the American citizens even now.
QUESTION: When Barack Obama was running for president in 2012, he said this in a presidential debate:
PRESIDENT OBAMA: “The deal we’ll accept is they end their nuclear program. It’s very straightforward.”
QUESTION: Secretary Moniz, I understand that there are limits, but Iran can continue to run its centrifuges, it can continue research, it can continue to enrich uranium. Why didn’t the President keep his pledge to the American people that we would end Iran’s program?
SECRETARY MONIZ: Well, first of all, the issue of Iran having a nuclear program was already established in the previous administration. Clearly, what we have done is we have dramatically limited and constrained the program —
QUESTION: But the President said to end it.
SECRETARY MONIZ: — really through 15 years.
SECRETARY KERRY: He meant end their ability to get a weapon. And we have ended their ability to get a weapon.
SECRETARY MONIZ: To get a weapon.
SECRETARY MONIZ: And we have ended their ability to get a weapon.
QUESTION: For a limited time, sir.
SECRETARY KERRY: No, not for a limited time; for the duration of the NPT.
SECRETARY MONIZ: We are —
QUESTION: Wait a minute. The President said —
SECRETARY MONIZ: We are better off —
QUESTION: Wait a minute. The President said —
SECRETARY MONIZ: If I may finish — we are better off forever in terms of the Iranian nuclear weapons activity under this agreement than we would be without it.
QUESTION: But the President said in April:
PRESIDENT OBAMA: In year 13, 14, 15, they have advanced centrifuges, they can enrich uranium fairly rapidly, and at that point the breakout times would have shrunk almost down to zero.
QUESTION: That’s not ending the program.
SECRETARY MONIZ: The breakout time, in fact, will not be going to zero at that time.
QUESTION: So the President was —
SECRETARY MONIZ: The – I’m just telling you we have the agreement has – the final agreement has the one-year breakout time securely for 10 years and then there will be a soft landing after that for several years.
QUESTION: Right. So by year 13, 14 it’s —
SECRETARY KERRY: Never, ever – (inaudible) ever.
SECRETARY MONIZ: No, it will never go to zero.
SECRETARY MONIZ: And furthermore, let me add something else. What we are using the word breakout time unconventionally in the sense of applying only to the nuclear materials. There’s a lot more you need for a nuclear explosive, and if you look at the agreement you will see an indefinite commitment to not pursuing four major activities needed for a weapon. And in addition, a 15 years of no work at all on uranium and plutonium metallurgy.
SECRETARY KERRY: And 25 years, Chris, where their entire uranium cycle is being tracked from the mining all the way through every component of it. So our intelligence community has told us they would have to have, to make a weapon illicitly or covertly, a completely separate secondary supply of uranium, and they won’t be able to do that.
QUESTION: Finally, Secretary Kerry, the White House is already working hard to try to get enough Senate Democrats to sustain a veto of a resolution of disapproval. What does it say about this agreement that the Administration is not even talking about Congress actually approving this deal?
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, because the Republicans have already made it clear what their position is to a large measure, and they are a majority in both Houses. So there is a purpose, obviously, in trying to get — first, he hasn’t settled on a veto, he’s trying to find the 41 which is a different thing, which is —
QUESTION: It’s a filibuster.
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, no, it’s not. It’s a question of whether or not you can approve it. But leaving that alone, I think the key —
QUESTION: But why not get it approved?
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, we’d love to have it approved. And hopefully, we’ll be able to persuade enough people. I hope there are enough minds still open, ready to consider this on its merits, that could be persuaded. And we’re going to work very hard – both of us. We’ll be on the Hill next week. We look forward to this interaction with the Congress, and we very much hope they can persuade enough people to approve it, of course.
QUESTION: Gentlemen, thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you.