Secretary of Sate John Kerry looked and sounded like a salesman pitching the deal of the century yesterday morning during a speech supporting President Obama’s Iran nuclear deal at Philadelphia’s National Constitution Center.
Though the deal became veto-proof earlier in the morning when Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski became the 34th senator to announce her support, Kerry nevertheless used the hard sell, warning that Iran would ramp up its efforts to develop nuclear weapons without the deal and would be indefinitely stopped from doing so with its approval.
“Rejecting this agreement would not be sending a signal of resolve to Iran,” he said, “it would be broadcasting a message so puzzling most people across the globe would find it impossible to comprehend,” he said.
The deal would “give us the tools we need to ensure Iran’s nuclear program remains peaceful,” said Kerry, whose hour-long remarks were carried live in Iran.
“I will make clear that the key elements of the agreement will last not for 10 to 15 years as some are trying to assert, but they will last for the lifetime of Iran’s nuclear program,” said Kerry, who affirmed the Obama administration’s “rock solid” commitment to the security of Israel.
Kerry said the U.S. agreement with Iran — already approved by the United Kingdom, China, France, Germany and Russia — is contained in 159 detail-rich pages and addresses all of Iran’s potential pathways to a bomb.
Rejecting the deal would be “self destructive,” he cautioned.
Critics, including the Republican majorities in both chambers of Congress, have assailed the deal as being weak on setting standards to monitor and inspect Iran’s compliance with the terms of the agreement. Some critics have argued that more economic sanctions should be placed on Iran to broker a better deal.
Kerry rejected the critics’ concerns, calling them “myths.”
“We have to face an obvious fact. Sanctions alone were not getting the job done. Not even close. They were failing to slow — let alone halt — Iran’s relentless march toward nuclear weapons capabilities. We made it clear from the outset we would not settle for anything less than an agreement that was comprehensive, verifiable, agreeable,” he said.
Congress has until Sept. 17 to act on the deal.
Though Kerry was greeted warmly when he stepped on stage and when he completed his remarks, not once was he interrupted by supportive applause.
Among the audience members were Mayor Nutter, who praised Kerry afterward, U.S. Rep Chaka Fattah, who said he would announce where he stands next week and students — many Jewish — from Villanova University, Swarthmore College, the University of Pennsylvania, LaSalle, St. Joseph’s and Temple universities.
Protesting outside were members of StandWithUs, a pro-Israel nonprofit that opposes the nuclear deal. With them was David Edman, who wore a “No Nukes for Iran” button and carried a rolled up banner under his arm that he was not allowed to unfurl during the speech.
“I think it was terrible. I don’t think he tells the truth,” Edman said of Kerry.
“He says it prevents Iran from getting nuclear weapons. That is not true. By the end of 10 or 15 years, they have everything they need to build a nuclear weapon almost instantaneously,” Edman insisted, “and they have ballistic missiles to carry them.”
Rabbi David Levin, among 340 rabbis who signed a letter in support of the nuclear deal last month, said that while Kerry presented a cogent argument, there will still be doubters — for good reason.
“I believe that what’s been negotiated is solid, but I also believe that given the nature of Israel that there’s a real risk and there’s a real fear that Iran is a very destabilizing force and a real threat to Israel,” he said after the speech.
Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, in Wyncote, was invited to the speech by the State Department because of his support of the deal.
“This deal is the best chance we have for the security of Israel and the security of the United States,” he said. “It is the best deal possible to avoid military strikes, it is the best deal possible to make sure that Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon.”
Former Republican Indiana senator Dick Lugar introduced Kerry. Seated next to him on the front row was Mayor Nutter, who said he was impressed that Kerry mentioned Philadelphia’s Ben Franklin several times and with how the secretary laid out the “pros and cons” of the deal.
“For many of us in this kind of work, while there may never be a perfect agreement, this agreement I believe, and many other nations around the world seem to agree, that it’s the best agreement that we can get at this point in time,” said Nutter. “It’s about verification, not just trust.”
This article was written by Mensah M. Dean and Jenny DeHuff from Philadelphia Daily News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.