Secretary of State John Kerry, delivering a speech in Philadelphia on the Iran deal, said the Islamic republic will be required to live up to the agreement in full before it starts benefiting from sanctions relief.
“Without this agreement, Iran’s so-called breakout time (to produce enough fuel for a nuclear weapon) was about two months. With this agreement it will increase by a factor of six, to at least a year, and will remain at that level for a decade or more,” Kerry said.
He also reiterated arguments he has been making in the two months since the deal was signed, insisting it is not based on trusting Tehran but on its ability to police its activity.
“The United States and the international community will be monitoring Iran non-stop and you can bet that, if we see something, we will do something,” he said.
“The standard we will apply can be summed up in two words: ‘Zero tolerance.’”
Kerry made no mention of reaching the 34-vote Senate threshold in his speech, seeking to avoid the image of a victory lap as he aims to broaden support for the deal.
But he told CNN that the administration “will continue to try to persuade people up until the last moment.”
Having been assured that the deal will survive, the White House is now eyeing another key threshold. If it gains backing from seven of the remaining undecided Senate Democrats to boost its numbers to 41, it could prevent Republicans from reaching the 60 members needed to force a vote on the resolution of disapproval.
That would save Obama the embarrassing step of cobbling together a minority coalition to sustain his veto preserving his landmark agreement, a process that would sow doubts among a skeptical American public and Washington’s international partners, which are keen to see strong US commitment to the accord.
Two Democratic senators stand opposed to the deal, as do a handful of House Democrats.
But House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi insisted Wednesday she would have sufficient votes supporting Obama.
“I am confident we will sustain the president’s veto in both houses of Congress,” Pelosi said.
The accord was reached in July between Tehran and six world powers: Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States.
Among Democrats in support, many have expressed deep concern about Iran’s adherence to the deal, and stressed it is the best of bad options.
“The alternative, to me, is a scenario of uncertainty and isolation,” Senator Chris Coons said Tuesday as he announced his support.