Secretary of State John Kerry testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the Iran Nuclear Agreement on July 23, 2015 in Washington, D.C. Photo by Pete Marovich/UPI | License Photo
WASHINGTON, July 23 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called the nuclear agreement with Iran "the best chance we have" in testimony Thursday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The hearing was the first public setting for debate involving the U.S. Congress, which must approve or reject the agreement within 60 days, and administration officials, including Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew appeared with Kerry to defend it.
"Let me underscore the alternative to the deal we have reached is not -- as I've seen some ads on TV suggesting disingenuously -- it isn't a 'better deal,' some sort of unicorn arrangement involving Iran's complete capitulation. That is a fantasy plain and simple, that our own intelligence community will tell you that," Kerry said in urging approval.
The agreement calls for a lifting of economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for limits placed on development of Iran's nuclear capability.
"They (Iran) already have what they want. They got it 10 years ago or more, so this is a question of giving them what they want, this is a question of how do you hold them back," Kerry added in explaining his belief the agreement is the best way to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.
Republican senators were particularly harsh in their comments about the agreement.
"I believe you've been fleeced," committee chairman Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), told Kerry. "In the process of being fleeced, you have turned Iran from being a pariah, to now Congress being a pariah."
"With all due respect, you guys have been bamboozled, and the American people are going to pay for that," added Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho).