Israeli minister: Kerry's remarks on Iran nuke deal 'not acceptable'

An Israeli Cabinet minister on Monday said Secretary of State John Kerry’s remarks over the specifics of a nuclear threshold in a final deal with Iran were "not acceptable."

"The things that Kerry said ... are worrying. They are surprising. They are not acceptable," Minister Yuval Steinitz told Israel Radio, according to Reuters

Steinitz, who oversees Israel’s nuclear affairs, said Kerry’s comments last week contradict what the United States has previously said about deterring Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

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"In the past, and also recently, what we heard from the Americans, including publicly, and from the Europeans and even from the Russians, was that Iran must be distanced years — not months but years — from nuclear weaponry,” he said. 

An agreement that keeps Iran from producing nuclear material within a range of several months to a year “would not hold water,” said Steinitz, who added that Israel would reject such a deal. 

Negotiators wrapped up a third round of negotiations in Vienna, Austria, last week.

During a hearing last week on Capitol Hill, senators asked Kerry whether negotiators would accept a “breakout” window of up to a year in a final nuclear agreement. 

"So six months to 12 months is — I'm not saying that's what we'd settle for, but even that is significantly more," Kerry said.

The secretary added that Iran currently is capable of “breakout” within two months.

This is not the first time members of Israel’s government have publicly slammed Kerry and the Obama administration.

Last month, Israel’s defense minister, Moshe Ya'alon, criticized Kerry and the U.S. for not leading the way on Iran. Other Israeli officials have also denounced Kerry’s handling of the now-stalled peace talks with the Palestinians.