The Obama administration pushed back hard Sunday against the idea that it conceded key ground in the recent nuclear deal with Iran, denying that the U.S. and its international partners ever pursued unfettered, 24/7 access to the Islamic republic’s nuclear sites.
In an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Secretary of State John F. Kerry said the agreement — which would allow Iran to delay inspectors for up to 24 days before granting them full access — will keep Iran’s nuclear program in check but denied that he and other administration officials ever asked for “anywhere, anytime” inspections.
“I never in four years had discussions about anytime, anywhere,” Mr. Kerry said. “The fact is that in arms control, there is no country anywhere on this planet that has anywhere, anytime. There is no such standard in arms control.”
Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, who appeared alongside Mr. Kerry, said the 24-day waiting period is sufficient.
“What will happen is, if the process runs the full length of the 24 days, the [international nuclear] inspectors will take environmental samples … We feel very confident they would find the evidence of nuclear activity,” Mr. Moniz said.
Congress has 60 days to review the Iran deal, which represents a foreign policy victory for the White House but faces an uncertain future on Capitol Hill and has angered key allies around the world, such as Israel.
Top lawmakers say that over the course of negotiations with Iran, President Obama changed the goals, which initially were the full termination of Iran’s nuclear program and full access for inspections.
“He has now moved the goal posts. All he wants to do is manage [Iran’s nuclear program]. They will get a nuclear weapon,” Sen. John Barrasso, Wyoming Republican, said on “Fox News Sunday.”