Kerry keeps up defense of Iran deal

Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryAs Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Pompeo announces Israeli settlements do not violate international law Deval Patrick's 2020 entry raises stakes in New Hampshire MORE offered a fiery defense of the Iran's nuclear deal Wednesday, as the Obama administration seeks to shore up more support for the agreement.

"To vote down this agreement is to solve nothing," Kerry said in Philadelphia.

He mentioned U.S. efforts to curb Iran's nuclear program while also remaining a vocal opponent of the nation’s support for terrorism in the Middle East, human rights record and stance on Israel.

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"Rejecting this agreement would not be sending a signal of resolve to Iran. It would be broadcasting a message so puzzling most people across the globe would find it impossible to comprehend," Kerry said.

Casting it as a "self-destructive blow to our nation's leadership," Kerry said opposing the deal essentially advocates "a policy of national paralysis ... devoid of any realistic plan or option."

His remarks came shortly after Sen. Barbara MikulskiBarbara Ann MikulskiLobbying World Only four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates Raskin embraces role as constitutional scholar MORE became the 34th Democratic senator to back the Iran deal, all but ensuring enough support to sustain a veto of legislation rejecting the deal.

“No deal is perfect, especially one negotiated with the Iranian regime," the retiring Maryland lawmaker said in a statement, adding she considered the deal "the best option available to block Iran from having a nuclear bomb."

While her vote locks in enough support to seemingly end the threat of a veto override, the White House could now look to the remaining 10 Senate Democrats who are publicly undecided for seven more to avoid a vote altogether on a measure rejecting the deal. Backers of that legislation require 60 votes to prevent a filibuster.

"The world will blame the United States," Kerry said of the prospect that Congress would block a deal brokered between the U.S, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China with Iran, noting the U.S. would be breaking "consensus."

Kerry, who also sent lawmakers letters on Wednesday stressing commitment to Israel, described support as "rock-solid" for the Middle East ally that considers Iran a threat, amid continued tweaking of the Israeli leader.

Kerry slammed those who would "puff out our chests" and offer rhetoric such as Iran "having an economy or having a nuclear program."

He also said that there was no comparison between previous efforts to curb North Korea's nuclear program, which had a four-page deal, and the Obama administration's plan with Iran, which totals more than 150 pages.

"Lesson learned," Kerry said, also acknowledging differences in the scope targeting the two countries.

"President Obama and I are convinced beyond any reasonable doubt that the framework we have put forward will get the job done," Kerry said of Iran, noting, "We arrived at the good and effective deal that we sought."

Attempting to dispel "myths" about the Iran deal, including that it is based on trust, Kerry said, "There is not a single sentence, not a single paragraph in this whole agreement, that depends on promises and trust. Not one."