Kerry Takes Swipe at Critics of Iran Talks

Kerry Takes Swipe at Critics of Iran Talks Kerry Takes Swipe at Critics of Iran Talks

US Secretary of State John Kerry appeared to take a swipe at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying critics of an emerging nuclear deal with Iran did not know what they were talking about.

Kerry told a US Senate subcommittee on Tuesday that he also expected to know soon whether Iran was willing to craft an "acceptable, verifiable" plan that would satisfy major powers that it is not seeking to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran denies its nuclear program may have any military objectives, saying the work is only for peaceful purposes.  

Netanyahu, who is scheduled to make a speech before a joint session of the US Congress on March 3, has described the agreement under negotiation with Iran as a "bad deal," and said he would do what he could to prevent it.

"Anybody running around right now jumping in to say, 'Well we don't like the deal,' or this or that, doesn't know what the deal is. There is no deal yet," Kerry told senators at a hearing on the US State Department's budget.

"And I caution people to wait and see what these negotiations produce," Reuters quoted him as saying.

It was the second time in recent days in which the Obama administration, irked that Netanyahu's speech to the Republican-led Congress was scheduled initially without its knowledge, appeared to criticize Israel over Iran.

Last Wednesday, the White House said Israel is distorting its position in the nuclear talks through selective leaks, heightening tensions before Netanyahu's visit to Congress.

The six major powers negotiating with Iran have set the end of March as a deadline to reach a framework accord on the nuclear issue. The United States and Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia hope to secure an accord to put temporary curbs on Iran's nuclear program in exchange for a phased lifting of sanctions.

Kerry said he expected to leave Saturday to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov about Syria, attend a UN Human Rights Council gathering and also hold nuclear negotiations with Iran. He did not say where those meetings would take place.

  10-Year Deal Denied

Meanwhile, the White House denied it was seeking a nuclear deal with Iran that would last just 10 years, AFP reported.

"There are some who are making the case publicly that we are in favor of a deal that would just be 10 years in duration, and that is not accurate," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Tuesday.

The United States had long demanded Iran dismantle its nuclear program, but in recent months has shifted focus to convincing Iran to limit enrichment to increase the so-called  "breakout" time, which is defined as how long it would take Iran to produce fissile material for one nuclear bomb, if it decided to do so. Earnest said the aim of the nuclear talks with Iran was to "not just reach an agreement with the Iranians, but reach an agreement with the Iranians that we can verify on a continuing, ongoing basis."