Secretary of State John Kerry testified before a House Foreign Relations Committee on nuclear relations with Iran, on Capitol Hill, December 10, 2013, in Washington, D.C. (UPI/Kevin Dietsch) | License Photo
Dec. 11 (UPI) -- Secretary of State John Kerry testified in front of congress yesterday about the interim Iranian nuclear agreement reached last month in Geneva, asking U.S. lawmakers to give diplomatic efforts a chance before imposing additional sanctions against Iran.
Speaking to the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Foreign Affairs Committee, Kerry assured the members that "Iran's nuclear programs will not move forward."
He asserted that the six-month deal has already made the U.S. safer from a nuclear ambitious Iran. “I would state to you unequivocally, the answer is yes, the national security of the United States is stronger under this first-step agreement than it was before. Israel’s national security is stronger than it was the day before we entered into this agreement. And the Gulf and Middle East interests are more secure than they were the day before we entered this agreement."
Under the interim agreement, Iran's nuclear program would be effectively frozen in exchange for some sanction relief. However, congress has raised the possibility of additional sanctions during that time period. The White House has asked lawmakers to give the Iranian interim nuclear agreement a chance, allowing for sanctions if diplomacy fails.
Yesterday, Kerry noted that the six and seven billion dollar sanction relief "pales in comparison to the amount of pressure that we are leaving in place. Iran will lose $30 billion over the course of this continued sanctions regime over the next six months. So compare that – they may get $7 billion of relief, but they’re going to lose $30 billion."
Acknowledging his previous support for Iranian sanctions, Kerry argued that congressional sanctions against Iran had been in effective; "...it was undeniable that the pressure we put on Iran through these sanctions is exactly what has brought Iran to the table today, and I think Congress deserves an enormous amount of credit for that." Kerry argued against imposing additional sanctions "for the sake of imposing them."
He urged congress to give this diplomatic agreement a chance, testifying:
This is a very delicate diplomatic moment, and we have a chance to address peacefully one of the most pressing national security concerns that the world faces today with gigantic implications of the potential of conflict. We’re at a crossroads. We’re at one of those, really, hinge points in history. One path could lead to an enduring resolution in international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. The other path could lead to continued hostility and potentially to conflict. And I don’t have to tell you that these are high stakes.
We have an obligation to give these negotiations an opportunity to succeed.
[U.S. Department of State]