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Kerry: No changes made in framework of Iran deal

"It's an unusual affirmation of our facts that come from Russia, but Russia has said that what we have set out is reliable and accurate." - Secretary of State John F. Kerry

By Doug G. Ware

WASHINGTON, April 12 (UPI) -- The United States' chief negotiator on a proposed nuclear deal with Iran said Sunday that the agreed upon framework hasn't changed at all, despite allegations by Tehran to the contrary.

During an interview Sunday with NBC and ABC News, Secretary of State John Kerry said Iran has attempted to "spin" details of the deal -- but claimed the deal's outline is the same today as it was first consented to.

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Since the deal's framework was agreed to April 2, both U.S. and Iranian officials have spoken out and claimed there are discrepancies or differences in interpretation of the agreement.

Both Iranian President Hasan Rouhani and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have publicly stated that any deal must involve the lifting of economic sanctions immediately. U.S. officials, though, have talked about a longer, gradual phase out of the sanctions -- because it will take some time to determine whether Tehran is adhering to its pledge to allow independent regulation of its nuclear program.

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Iranian officials have also accused the United States of misrepresenting the deal to the public, but Kerry stated that even Russia says that's not true.

"The Russians issued [a] statement saying that the fact sheet or the facts as expressed by the United States are reliable and accurate information," he said. "So I'm going to let the facts speak for themselves."

Last week, Khamenei went on Iranian state television and delivered a speech critical of the U.S. government. He also said two things that seemed to be in direct conflict with what initial reports of the deal said.

RELATED Iran's Rouhani says sanctions must end immediately or nuke deal is off table

For one, Khamenei said, any deal with the 5+1 negotiators -- comprised of the United States and five ally nations -- will require the immediate removal of the sanctions. Secondly, he said, no foreign or independent regulators will be allowed to inspect Iran's military bases as part of the nuclear program's oversight.

"When we did the interim agreement, there were these same kinds of discrepancies, or spin, if you want to call it that, with respect to what the deal was or wasn't," Kerry said on NBC's Meet the Press. "But in the end, the deal was signed and the deal has been agreed to and lived up to."

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Because any deal arising from the framework must be ratified by all parties by June 30, the discrepancies in the agreement are leading some experts to question whether a final accord can be struck.

Kerry is cautiously optimistic -- and acknowledged there isn't much trust between the governments of Iran and Western negotiators. But, he said, trust isn't required to reach an accord with Iran on this issue.

"This is an agreement that is based on transparency, accountability, verification." he said. "There is no element of trust in what we're doing. You have to build trust, and that takes place over a long period of time.

"I will lay out in full our understanding of this agreement [Tuesday] and if it isn't the understanding ... we are not going to sign [it]," Kerry said.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has been a major critic of the deal -- and last week called Kerry "delusional" and questioned whether Iranian negotiators even agreed to the framework -- a statement that angered the Obama administration.

"I can't blame the ayatollah, because I don't think they ever agreed to it," McCain said. "And I think John Kerry tried to come back and sell a bill of goods, hoping maybe that the Iranians wouldn't say much about it."

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"I think President Obama spoke very, very powerfully to Senator McCain," Kerry said Sunday. "I'll let the president's words stand."

"I will let the final agreement speak for itself."

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