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Posts tagged ‘Kerry’

Merkel Gets Tough as Russian Troops Hold War Games.


Russia launched new military exercises near its border with Ukraine on Thursday, showing no sign of backing down on plans to annex its neighbour’s Crimea region despite a stronger than expected drive for sanctions from the EU and United States.

In an unusually robust and emotional speech, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned of “catastrophe” unless Russia changes course, while a man was killed in Ukraine in fighting between rival protesters in a mainly Russian-speaking city.

At the U.N. Security Council, the United States circulated a draft resolution that would declare illegal Sunday’s planned referendum on independence for Ukraine’s Crimea region.

But Russia, one of the Security Council’s five veto-wielding permanent members, made clear it opposed the draft.

“Russia announced they will kill it,” a senior Western diplomat told Reuters.

In Berlin, Merkel removed any suspicion she might try to avoid a confrontation with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“We would not only see it, also as neighbors of Russia, as a threat. And it would not only change the European Union’s relationship with Russia,” she told parliament. “No, this would also cause massive damage to Russia, economically and politically.”

Secretary of State John Kerry said serious steps would be imposed on Monday by the United States and Europe if the referendum on Crimea joining Russia takes place on Sunday as planned.

Merkel, a fluent Russian speaker who grew up in communist East Germany, has emerged in recent days as a leading figure in threatening tough measures against Moscow.

Her foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said that over the weekend, European states would draw up a list of Russians who will face visa restrictions and asset freezes.

Putin declared Russia’s right to invade its neighbor on March 1, as Russian troops were already seizing control of Crimea, a Black Sea peninsula with a narrow ethnic Russian majority and a Russian naval base.

Events have moved rapidly, perhaps signalling an effort by Moscow to turn the annexation into a fait accompli before the West can coordinate a response.

In the Ukrainian city of Donetsk, a young man was stabbed to death and more than a dozen people were in hospital after pro-Russian and pro-European demonstrators clashed. The violence was the worst since last month’s overthrow of the Moscow-backed president, Viktor Yanukovich.

But in an apparently conciliatory move, Russia backed deployment of an OSCE monitoring mission in Ukraine, including Crimea, the Swiss chairman of the European rights watchdog said.

The leader of pro-Moscow separatist politicians in Crimea, who took power there after armed men seized the regional parliament on Feb. 27, predicted a strong vote in favor of union with Russia in Sunday’s referendum.

“We have a survey by renowned Ukrainian and Crimean polling experts showing clearly and plainly that more than 80 percent of people in Crimea are ready to join the Russian Federation,” Crimean Prime Minister Sergei Aksyonov told Reuters.

Aksyonov, whose election in a closed session of the regional parliament is not recognized by Kiev, dismissed opponents’ accusations he will fix the referendum on Moscow’s orders. “We guarantee that all aspects of European law will be followed, including security for voters,” he said in an interview.

Western countries dismiss the vote as illegal. “The referendum on Sunday will have no legitimacy, no legal effect, it can have no moral effect. It is a piece of political theater that is being perpetrated at the barrel of a gun,” Daniel Baer, the U.S. ambassador to the OSCE, told reporters in Vienna.

At the United Nations, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said time was running out for a peaceful solution. She urged Russia to listen to the “remarkably unified” voices of its 14 fellow members of the Security Council and the Ukrainian people.

Diplomats said the one-page resolution would urge countries not to recognize the results of the vote in Crimea. A vote on the draft was postponed until Saturday at the latest to allow time for more negotiations.

Russia has taken territory from its former Soviet neighbors in the past with no serious consequences — in 2008 it invaded Georgia and seized two breakaway regions. But if Putin was hoping for a similarly tepid response this time, he may have misjudged.

In particular, he seems to have alienated Merkel, the Western leader with whom Putin, a German speaker who was once a KGB spy in East Germany, has had the closest relationship.

Merkel was initially more cautious than other Western leaders on the Crimean crisis, but in recent days she has pushed the European Union to match U.S. sanctions. EU action is critical because Europe does 10 times as much trade with Russia as the United States, buying most of its gas and oil exports.

The prospect that EU measures could be implemented as soon as Monday has weighed down the Russian economy.

Goldman Sachs revised its prediction for Russian economic growth this year down to 1 percent from 3 percent, blaming the tension over Ukraine for capital flight that would cripple investment. It said $45 billion had already left Russia this year, mostly Russians stashing money abroad.

The Russian stock market hit a 4-1/2-year low on Thursday and is down 20 percent since mid-February. The cost of insuring Moscow’s debt against default rose to its highest level in nearly two years.

The crisis has already forced several Russian firms to put plans on hold for public offerings to raise cash abroad.

Yet none of that appears to have slowed down Putin, who told officials of the Winter Paralympic Games he is hosting in Sochi that Russia was “not the initiator” of the crisis.

The Russian Defense Ministry said 8,500 troops were taking part in new military exercises near the Ukrainian border, testing artillery and rocket launchers.

It was the second big exercise Moscow has ordered since the crisis began; the first, involving 150,000 troops, started a few days before Russian forces seized Crimea.

In a gesture of support for NATO’s eastern members, U.S. F-16 fighter jets landed at Poland’s Lask air base on Thursday.

Among efforts by the West to isolate Russia politically, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a 34-member rich nations’ club, announced it was suspending membership talks with Russia, under way since 2007.

Moscow has pledged to respond in kind to any Western sanctions. The prime minister of Lithuania, a former Soviet republic that is now an EU member state, said Russia had suspended food product imports through its port of Klaipeda.

But European leaders appear to be calculating that the damage to Russia would be far worse than to Europe. EU-Russian trade makes up 15 percent of Russia’s economy and just 1 percent of Europe’s. Although EU countries depend on Russian gas imports, storage tanks are full after a mild winter.

Diplomatic lines have been open between Russia and the West throughout the crisis: Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke on Thursday, as they have nearly every day. They are due to meet in London on Friday.

Russia’s top general discussed Ukraine with the chairman of NATO’s Military Committee by telephone on Thursday, the Interfax news agency said.

The crisis over Crimea began after Yanukovich fled Kiev and pro-European politicians took charge, following three months of demonstrations.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

Kerry’s MidEast Peace Plan Will Destroy Israel Piece By Piece.


Secretary of State, John Kerry is reportedly making offers, promises and guarantees in the Middle East. Media reports indicate that “Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has reportedly shot down a proposal by US Secretary of State John Kerry to maintain Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley for ten years following the signing of an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord.” Kerry, is reportedly promising the Palestinians the Jordan valley, and “invisible” Israeli presence at the border crossings between the West Bank and Jordan. John Kerry offered and promised what? Does Kerry own the Jordan Valley?

In November, John Kerry visited Israel and pressured Israel, and encouraged the Arabs to commit violence on Israel asking, “I mean, does Israel want a third intifada?” Tantamount to encouraging Israel to negotiate with a gun to their head, Kerry said Israel’s “isolation” would be their own fault if a peace deal with the Palestinians falls through. Kerry further warned the Israelis that “the alternative to getting back to the talks is the potential of chaos,” and continued, “There will be an increasing campaign of delegitimization of Israel [that] has been taking place in an international basis.”

Given the Obama Administrations track record in the Middle East, Israel (and the Palestinians) would be better off without Kerry’s visits to the region. John Kerry should spend less time pressuring Israel, the sole democracy in the Middle East. Kerry’s focus on the Middle East can be working to catch the people in Libya (around the corner from Israel), where the Ambassador was lynched. Since Kerry claims to have stopped Iran so skillfully, after that he can focus on Egypt which is in chaos after America chased out Mubarak who was previously a staunch American ally. Just around the corner, Kerry can visit Syria, where Assad, Syria’s dictator remains in power thanks to Putin’s protection. In Syria, over 100,000 people have been slaughtered in the last two years, including more than 5,000 children under the age of 16. There are hundreds of thousands dead already in the Middle East thanks to this administrations’ horrid foreign policies.

While America wrongly shows restraint with dictators, they must understand Israel lives in a very dangerous neighborhood and has life or death concerns when it comes to adapting these policies. The Obama Administration wrongly accuses and blames Israel rather than the terrorists who work to destroy Israel piece by piece, in false pursuit peace. They seek to destroy Israel piece by piece – from the “West Bank” to Jordan Valley to Eastern Jerusalem.

Ze’ev Jabotinsky, a Zionist visionary who is the spiritual father of the Likud Party (the ruling party of the state of Israel, headed by Benjamin Netanyahu) wrote many years ago of the need to stand up against people those who don’t have the best interests of the Jewish people at heart: “Instead of excessive apology and instead of turning our backs to the accusers — as there is nothing to apologize for, and nobody to apologize to — it is long overdue to respond to all current and future accusations, reproaches, suspicions, slanders and denunciations by simply folding our arms and loudly, clearly, coldly and calmly answer, ‘Go to Hell!’

“Who are we, to make excuses to them; who are they to interrogate us? What is the purpose of this mock trial over the entire people where the sentence is known in advance? Our habit of constantly and zealously answering to any rabble has already done us a lot of harm and will do much more. The situation that has been created as a result, tragically confirms a well known saying: ‘Qui s’excuse s’accuse’ (He who apologizes condemns himself).

“We think that our constant readiness to undergo a search without hesitation and to turn out our pockets will eventually convince mankind of our nobility; look what gentlemen we are — we do not have anything to hide! This is a terrible mistake. The real gentlemen are the people that will not allow anyone for any reason to search their apartments, their pockets or their souls. Only a person under surveillance is ready for a search at every moment. This is the only inevitable conclusion from our maniacal reaction to every reproach, to accept responsibility as a people for every action of a Jew, and to make excuses in front of everybody.

“I consider this system to be false at its very root. We are hated not because we are blamed for everything, but we are blamed for everything because we are not loved. We do not have to apologize for anything. We are a people as all other peoples; we do not have any intentions to be better than the rest. We do not have to account to anybody; we are not to sit for anybody’s examination and nobody is old enough to call on us to answer. We came before them. We are what we are, we are good for ourselves, we will not change and we do not want to. We are hated not because we are blamed for everything, but we are blamed for everything because we are not loved. We do not have to apologize for anything.”

As Esquire magazine noted some months ago about Kerry’s trips to Israel, “There is nothing he could be doing that would be a bigger waste of his time, including windsurfing.” Leave Israel alone. As Benjamin Netanyahu said: ‘If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more violence. If the Jews put down their weapons today, there would be no more Israel.”

Ronn Torossian is a New York based Public Relations executive and author.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 

By Ronn Torossian

Kerry: ‘Unacceptable’ that North Korea’s Kim Has Nuclear Weapons.


Image: Kerry: 'Unacceptable' that North Korea's Kim Has Nuclear Weapons

By Amy Woods

Calling the regime of North Korea’s Kim Jong Un a “ruthless, horrendous dictatorship,” Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday the execution of Kim’s uncle and former mentor still is being deciphered but points to a man who is unstable at best.

“It tells us a lot about, first of all, how ruthless and reckless he is, and it also tells us a lot about how insecure he is, to a certain degree,” Kerry said on ABC’s “This Week.”

The death of Jang Song Thaek, who was believed to have been the second-most powerful man in the country, is one of several executions Kim has carried out in the recent months, Kerry said.

“North Korea remains relatively opaque, but we do have insights,” he said.

Because of the instability and danger Kim poses to the world, the United States, working with China, Japan, Russia and South Korea, must ensure the future of peninsula is one without nuclear weapons.

“To have a nuclear weapon potentially in the hands of somebody like Kim Jong Un just becomes even more unacceptable,” Kerry said.

Addressing “incorrect” accusations that the United States has abandoned former FBI agent Bob Levinson, who went missing in Iran in 2006, Kerry said he personally has raised the issue of the hostage’s whereabouts.

“We don’t have any meetings with anybody who has something to do with Iran or an approach to Iran where we don’t talk to them about how we might be able to find not just Mr. Levinson, but we have two other Americans that were deeply concerned about,” Kerry said. “I think the Iranian government has the ability to help us here, and we hope they will.”

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Kerry: Israeli-Palestinian Deal Possible by End of April.


TEL AVIV, Israel — Shrugging off gloomy predictions of failure, Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday that Israelis and Palestinians remained committed to peace talks and were on course to wrap up a full deal by April.

Speaking at the end of his second visit to the region in just a week, Kerry said the two sides were discussing a framework for a final-status accord to resolve the core issues at the heart of the decades-old conflict.

“Both parties remain committed to fulfilling their obligations to stay at the table and negotiate hard during the nine-month period that we set for that,” Kerry told reporters after separate talks with Palestinian and Israeli leaders.

“We’re not talking at this point about any shifts [in the schedule],” he said, dismissing bleak assessments from both sides on progress in the U.S.-brokered negotiations, which resumed in July after a three-year pause.

The U.S. top diplomat wants the two camps to accept a so-called framework accord that will touch on all the main issues, such as security, the future of Jerusalem and the fate of refugees, and serve as a broad outline for the final deal.

Palestinians fear such a preliminary agreement could serve to delay once again their hopes of establishing an independent state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem — land the Israelis seized in the 1967 war.

Kerry said his talks over the past two days, played out against a backdrop of fierce winter snow storms, had focused on security, with retired U.S. General John Allen joining him for the discussions with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

GUARANTEES

Palestinian sources said Allen, a former commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, had drawn up plans to allow a continued Israeli military presence for the next 10 years in the Jordan Valley — along the eastern border of any new Palestinian state.

Israel says its troops have to remain there to prevent arms and militants from entering the West Bank and launching attacks. Abbas has rejected the idea, but said he would accept seeing U.S. troops deployed along the border.

“We are working on an approach that both guarantees Israel’s security and fully respects Palestinian sovereignty,” Kerry said, without giving further details.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said after Kerry’s visit “we want to achieve a peace based on Israel’s withdrawal from lands occupied in 1967.”

“We won’t accept limiting Palestinian sovereignty over our land,” Erekat added, in comments to al Arabiya television.

Palestinians also question whether Israel will press ahead with the third tranche of a planned release of Palestinian prisoners.

Seen as a vital confidence-building measure, Israel has so far freed about half the 104 prisoners it had pledged to let out of its jails under a deal secured by Washington in July. Kerry said the third tranche would go ahead on Dec. 29.

Kerry has made nine visits to the region since taking office in February in a relentless campaign to gain momentum and bridge a vast gulf of mutual mistrust.

“We remain hopeful that we can achieve that final-status agreement. Why? Because we are absolutely confident . . . that for both sides, and the region at large, peace can bring enormous benefits,” Kerry said.

He left Israel later on Friday, bound for Vietnam and the Philippines.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

Kerry Meets Israel’s Netanyahu Again to Push Peace Talks.


Image: Kerry Meets Israel's Netanyahu Again to Push Peace Talks

JERUSALEM — Secretary of State John Kerry met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday in his latest push for an elusive Mideast peace deal.

On his ninth trip of the year to the region, Kerry continued his furious pace of shuttle diplomacy amid a rare snowstorm that blanketed Jerusalem.

“I have heard of making guests welcome and feeling at home. This is about as far as I’ve ever seen anything go . . . giving me a New England snowstorm,” said the former Massachusetts senator as he viewed a snow-covered Old City of Jerusalem with Netanyahu.

Kerry met Thursday in Ramallah with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and it took him more than two hours to get back to Jerusalem because of the wintry conditions, a trip that usually takes about 20 minutes. He departs later Friday for Vietnam.

Concerned that a final status agreement may not be possible by the May target date the two sides accepted when they resumed talks in August, U.S. officials say Kerry is hoping for a framework accord that would contain the principles of a comprehensive pact, but not specific details.

If an outline were achieved, the negotiations could be extended beyond the nine-month timeline originally set by Kerry.

The officials, who spoke to reporters aboard Kerry’s plane on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the negotiations publicly, stressed that an agreement on all issues — including security, borders of a future Palestinian state, the status of Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees — by May remains the goal.

But, should that prove unworkable, they said a framework agreement would buy time for additional negotiations. Netanyahu and Abbas agreed after numerous rounds of meetings with Kerry to negotiate for a minimum of nine months.

A framework accord, the officials said, would be a “logical step” on the path to a final status agreement.

In Ramallah and Jerusalem, he will also follow up on elements of a West Bank security plan, ideas for which he unveiled on his most recent visit to the region just last week, and other points of potential progress.

But his latest visit comes amid Palestinian unhappiness with the security plan and few, if any, tangible signs of progress.

Kerry, along with special U.S. Mideast peace envoy Martin Indyk, met separately and then together for about three hours Monday with chief Israeli negotiator Tzipi Livni and her Palestinian counterpart, Saeb Erekat, Psaki said.

Livni and Erekat were in Washington for a Mideast conference in which President Barack Obama, Netanyahu and Kerry participated. Kerry also spoke Wednesday by phone with Netanyahu.

On Monday, though, top Abbas aide Yasser Abed Rabbo said if Kerry finalized a framework accord, he would be breaking a promise to try to negotiate a final agreement in the current round of talks.

The Palestinians are concerned that a framework deal will accommodate very specific Israeli security demands while offering only vague promises to the Palestinians, Abed Rabbo said.

Security arrangements between Israel and a future Palestine would be central to such a framework. Kerry has argued that progress in negotiations is only possible if Israeli security concerns are addressed first.

The security proposals presented last week to Abbas and Netanyahu include arrangements for the border between Jordan and a state of Palestine.

U.S. officials have refused to discuss details, but Palestinian officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the details of the negotiations, say they would give Israel final say at that border for at least 10 years and would also have a military presence in the strip of land next to it, the West Bank’s Jordan Valley.

Israeli officials have said they fear militants and weapons could be smuggled into a future Palestine if Israel gives up control over the West Bank-Jordan border. Abbas has said he is willing to accept an international presence there, but not Israeli forces.

The Palestinians want a state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, lands Israel captured in 1967, but are willing to accept minor land swaps in drawing the final border to accommodate some of the settlements Israel has built on war-won land.

Netanyahu has refused to commit to what the Palestinians and most of the international community considers a basic ground rule — that border negotiations use the 1967 lines as a starting point.

In all, Israel has agreed to release 104 veteran Palestinian prisoners in four stages during the current negotiations, which began in late July and are to conclude in April. Israel has so far released two groups of prisoners.

Kerry wants the last two releases to be combined and be carried out in late January, instead of being done in two installments, the Palestinian officials said.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: Newsmax.com

Rep. McCaul: Iran Deal Could Lead to Nuclear Arms Race.


The nuclear weapons deal between the United States and Iran could lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, Rep. Michael McCaul said Wednesday.

“If we lift the sanctions, [Secretary of State John Kerry] will allow Iran to continue enriching uranium,” McCaul told Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom.”

Story continues below video.

“It’s empowering other partners in the Middle East to possibly do the same. It could start a nuclear arms race,” the Texas Republican said.

McCaul is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and chairs the Homeland Security Committee. Kerry appeared before the Foreign Affairs Committee Tuesday to answer questions about the recent agreement with Iran.

Earlier this year, the House approved in a bipartisan vote additional sanctions against Iran. McCaul said the purpose of the bill was to give Kerry “a better hand to play” in negotiations.

“When you go into negotiation, you need all the leverage you can get to play your best hand at the table,” McCaul said. “And yet, he does not want us to go down that road.”

McCaul questioned whether Iran was negotiating in good faith. He called Kerry “naive” to negotiate with a country that’s called for the “destruction of Israel and the West, including the United States.”

“Just last week, the president of Iran basically said the centrifuges will never stop spinning. I think that’s very insightful as to their intent,” he said.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Wanda Carruthers

Democrats, Republicans Spar With Kerry Over Iran Nuclear Deal.


Image: Democrats, Republicans Spar With Kerry Over Iran Nuclear Deal

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State John Kerry clashed with congressmen on both sides of the aisle Tuesday over the controversial nuclear deal with Iran, exposing deep rifts over a U.S. pledge to refrain from any new sanctions over the next six months in exchange for concessions on enriching uranium.

The disagreement could have broad consequences for the U.S. diplomatic effort to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

In his first congressional testimony since last month’s Geneva agreement,  Kerry defended the diplomacy as having halted and rolled back central elements of Iran’s nuclear program for the first time.

He pleaded with Democrats and Republicans alike not to scuttle the chances of a peaceful resolution to a crisis that has regularly featured U.S. and Israeli threats of potential military action.

“Let me be very clear: This is a very delicate diplomatic moment and we have a chance to address peacefully one of the most pressing national security concerns that the world faces today,” Kerry told the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “We’re at a crossroads. We’re at one of those really hinge points in history. One path could lead to an enduring resolution in the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. The other path could lead to continued hostility and potentially to conflict.”

Kerry’s appearance came as lawmakers increasingly threatened to undermine the six-month interim pact, which gives Iran $7 billion in sanctions relief over the next half-year in exchange for the Islamic republic’s neutralizing its higher-enriched uranium stockpiles, not adding any new centrifuges, and ceasing work at a heavy-water reactor that potentially could produce plutonium used in nuclear weapons.

Members of both parties challenged Kerry.

The top Democrat on the panel, Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, specifically asked Kerry why the administration was so strongly opposing sanctions that wouldn’t be imposed unless Iran breaks the agreement.

And Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman expressed misgivings about trusting the Obama administration, which he accused of hampering all sanctions efforts against Iran thus far.

Sens. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and Mark Kirk, R-Ill., are close to completing a bill that would require the administration to certify every 30 days Iran’s adherence to the interim pact, according to legislative aides.

Without that certification, the legislation would re-impose all sanctions and introduce new restrictions on Iran’s engineering, mining and construction industries.

The legislation also calls for a global boycott of Iranian oil by 2015 if Iran fails to live up to the interim agreement. Foreign companies and banks violating the bans would be barred from doing business in the United States.

However, Iran sanctions were left off a defense bill working its way through the Senate this week — much to the dismay of Republicans.

“This is a rather transparent attempt to prevent a vote on enhanced Iran sanctions, so they’re trying to circumvent the Senate, pass major legislation, essentially without amendments,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters.

In the House, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., is drafting separate legislation mapping out how a final deal with Iran should look, aides say.

Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, has warned any new package of commercial restrictions would kill the deal.

“If Congress adopts sanctions, it shows lack of seriousness and lack of a desire to achieve a resolution on the part of the United States,” Zarif told Time magazine. “My parliament can also adopt various legislation that can go into effect if negotiations fail. But if we start doing that, I don’t think that we will be getting anywhere.”

Kerry said new sanctions could also be viewed as a sign of bad faith by America’s negotiating partners — Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia. The United States is banking on them to enforce existing oil and financial restrictions on Tehran and to press Iran into a final agreement.

“I don’t want to give the Iranians a public excuse to flout the agreement,” Kerry said. “It could lead our international partners to think that we’re not an honest broker, and that we didn’t mean it when we said that sanctions were not an end in and of themselves but a tool to pressure the Iranians into a diplomatic solution. Well, we’re in that. And six months will fly by so fast, my friends, that before you know it, we’re either going to know which end of this we’re at or not.”

Kerry’s assessment comes just three days after President Barack Obama began to play down chances for success, telling a think-tank forum that he believed the odds of a comprehensive nuclear agreement next year are 50-50 or worse.

Still, Obama defended diplomacy as the best way to prevent Tehran from acquiring atomic weapons and rejected criticism from Israel’s government and many in Congress that his aides bargained away too much without securing a complete halt to Iran’s nuclear program — as demanded by the international community for several years.

Members of Congress generally believe that crippling petroleum, banking, and trade sanctions levied on Iran in recent years were responsible for bringing its more moderate president, Hassan Rouhani, to power and his representatives to the negotiating table.

Many argue more pressure, not less, could break Iran’s will and secure better terms in a final agreement.

At several points, Kerry and lawmakers talked over each other as they argued about whether the deal recognized Iran’s “right” to enrich uranium — which the administration rejects — and about the details of international inspections on Iranian sites and its non-nuclear weapons programs.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., was perhaps strongest in her criticism of the administration, flatly denouncing the agreement in Geneva as a “bad deal.”

“We may have bargained away our fundamental position,” said Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., the committee chairman. “Iran should not be enriching and reprocessing,” he said, criticizing what he termed the administration’s “false confidence that we can effectively check Iran’s misuse of these key nuclear bomb-making technologies.”

Iran insists its program is solely for peaceful nuclear energy and medical research.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: Newsmax.com

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