US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian FM Javad Zarif enjoying a Nucear Kebab
(cartoon by Mohammad Tahani, Iranian daily Arman)
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday again slammed a letter signed by 47 Republican senators that warned Iran about a prospective landmark nuclear deal, calling the letter irresponsible and incorrect.
Speaking at a news conference at a major investment conference in the Egypt, Kerry also said with the deadline for a deal approaching, it was unclear whether the letter would affect the ongoing talks.
The United States and its partners - Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia - have an end-of-March deadline to reach a deal for Iran to curb its uranium enrichment program in exchange for lifting sanctions that have destroyed its economy.
Iran insists its atomic efforts are solely for civilian and research use, though U.N. inspectors have turned up evidence raising questions about those intentions.
On Monday, 47 Republican senators released an open letter to Iran’s leaders warning that any agreement could potentially be revoked by President Barack Obama's successor, and that Congress also could make changes to the deal.
The letter prompted denunciations from the White House and Democrats, and even a punchy retort from Iran’s supreme leader, who said it showed “the destruction of the American establishment from within.”
Speaking in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Kerry said the negotiations with Iran will continue and that despite some progress, important gaps remain.
“I can't tell you whether or not we can get a deal, whether we are close,'' he said.
"The purpose of these negotiations is not just to get a deal, it is to get the right deal," he said.
Kerry said he would assure Iranian negotiators and Europeans allies during the upcoming talks that Congress did not have the authority to change the deal.
“As far as we're concerned, Congress has no ability to change an executive agreement,'' Kerry said.
If the framework deal is reached this month, the two sides would then seek to negotiate by June 30 a final agreement to would curb Iran's most sensitive nuclear activities for at least 10 years. In exchange, sanctions on the Islamic Republic would gradually end.
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