Kerry Faces Bipartisan Skepticism over Iran Accord
Lawmakers are weighing in on the Iranian nuclear deal aimed at preventing the Islamic Republic from building a nuclear weapon.
Secretary of State John Kerry faced tough questions Tuesday from members of both parties in a hearing held by the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
In an at times tense exchange, Kerry, Energy Secretary Ernest Monize, and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew defended the deal between Iran and six nations aimed at preventing the Islamic Republic from building a nuclear weapon.
"Let me underscore, the alternative to the deal that we have reached is not some kind of unicorn fantasy that contemplates Iran's complete capitulation," the defense secretary said.
Kerry was hoping to coax skeptical lawmakers into supporting the nuclear pact. He warned that walking away would send the wrong message internationally.
"If we walk away, we walk away alone. Our partners are not going to be with us," he said.
But lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have expressed concerns about the details of the agreement, with many questioning if Iran will actually live up to the deal.
"Iran has cheated on every agreement they've signed, so I ask Mr. Secretary, has Iran earned the right to be trusted?" Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., asked.
With Republicans basically united in their opposition to the accord, President Barack Obama is looking to Democrats for support. But many are skeptical, especially since Israel is 100 percent opposed to it.
Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he was very disappointed with the agreement.
"I have a fundamental concern that 15 years from now Iran will essentially be off the hook," he said.
But the White House is working hard to get Democrats to approve the deal, with the president personally meeting with and calling Democratic lawmakers to ask for their support.
Congress is set to vote on the bill in mid-September, and with much of the public skeptical of the deal, the pressure is expected to intensify on both sides. Obama has threatened to veto any move to reject the plan.