Kerry: 'I'm not accusing' Iran deal critics of wanting war

Kerry: 'I'm not accusing' Iran deal critics of wanting war
© Francis Rivera

Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryDemocrats fear Ohio slipping further away in 2020 He who must not be named: How Hunter Biden became a conversation-stopper Rep. Joe Kennedy has history on his side in Senate bid MORE on Tuesday said the administration was not seeking to demonize those who don't support the Iran deal or suggest they are warmongers.  

"I'm not accusing anyone of willfully choosing that or being a warmonger, or suggesting that they want that, even though you've heard some pretty flashy language in some hearings about who wins war and what happens," Kerry said during a discussion hosted by Reuters. 

"But what I am saying is people really owe it to everybody to evaluate fully what happens if Congress were to override a veto and say no," he said. 

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Critics have blasted the administration for arguing that the only alternative to the deal is war with Iran and comparing Iraq War supporters with opponents of the Iran deal.  

“Let’s not mince words: The choice we face is ultimately between diplomacy and some form of war — maybe not tomorrow, maybe not three months from now, but soon,” Obama said in a 56-minute address from American University last week.  

The president also said, “Many of same people who argued for the war in Iraq are now making the case against the Iran nuclear deal." 

Kerry, the lead negotiator of the Iran deal, discussed his own support in 2002 to authorize the Iraq War under "enormous pressures" but argued that not all conditions he had laid out for his support were met.   

Kerry voted to authorize the Iraq War, and he "paid a high price for it for a long period of time," he said. 

"Because I thought the president needed the clout to be able to leverage behavior, and in my speech on the floor of the Senate, I said very clearly, 'I'm not voting to get carte blanche to race to war. I want to see all the things that were promised, achieved, i.e., last resort, go through the allies, do everything else,'

"Obviously that didn't happen, and so a lot of people feel there was a rush there," he said. 

Kerry did not reiterate the argument that the deal was the best alternative to war, but instead said, "It's better, frankly, that we don't go down that path ... and argue this on the merits.

"I think the merits are very, very strong, and the president does too," he said. "I just would like very much for members to take the time to look at the latest intelligence and to factor that in."