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Kerry: Iranian deal is last chance To "halt march" toward bomb

Kerry flew to the US city of Philadelphia for the latest stage in his battle to defend the accord

Published: Updated:

US Secretary of State John Kerry made a late bid to broaden support for the Iran nuclear deal Wednesday after the administration won the bare minimum of congressional support needed to ensure its survival.
In last push to Iran deal, Kerry

Kerry flew to the US city of Philadelphia for the latest stage in his battle to defend the accord, under which Iran agreed to international supervision of its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

But his target audience was back home in Washington, where President Barack Obama's White House is lobbying to ensure enough backing for the deal to survive a bid by Republican lawmakers to sink it.



Kerry's address attacked what he sees as the myths that have grown up around the agreement, insisting it is not a capitulation to Tehran but instead the best and only way to halt its quest for the bomb.

Washington's senior diplomat said that in 2013, when Obama and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani launched the negotiation process, Iran had already "transformed itself into a nuclear threshold state."

"In the Obama administration, we were well aware of that troubling fact and, more important, we were already responding to it," he said, arguing that Iran was already then under tight economic sanctions.

"But we also had to face an obvious fact: sanctions alone were not getting the job done, not even close," he said.

"They were failing to slow, let alone halt, Iran's relentless march toward a nuclear weapons capability."

So, Kerry said, Obama decided to marshall US allies and world powers and to push Tehran into talks and to negotiate "until finally we arrived at the good and effective deal we had sought.

"Without this agreement, Iran's so-called breakout time 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."

The US Congress may vote on the Iran deal as early as next week. It was only Tuesday that the White House won over the somewhat reluctant support of a senator seen as key to the deal's survival.

With Democrat Barbara Mikulski's support, the deal now has 34 backers in the Senate, a minority but enough to prevent the body from overturning Obama's veto if he has to block a bid to stop it.

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