(CNSNews.com) – Secretary of State John Kerry conceded on Tuesday that Iran “may” use weapons that it will acquire as a result of restrictions being lifted under the nuclear agreement to kill Americans and Israelis.
Appearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee to defend the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Kerry was asked about recent belligerent statements by Iranian leaders.
“Less than two weeks ago Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei led a rally that was frequently punctuated by chants of ‘Death to America!’ and ‘Death to Israel!’ observed Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.)
“Do you believe his comments accurately reflect Iranian government goals?” he asked Kerry.
“I think they reflect an attitude and a rhetorical excess, but I see no evidence that they have a policy that is implementing that against us at this point in time.”
Asked whether he believes Iran is the world’s biggest sponsor of terror, Kerry replied that he does.
Brooks then asked the secretary of state whether he believes that the Iranians “will use the conventional weapons made available by the Iran nuclear treaty to kill Americans or Israelis?”
“Well, they may, they may,” Kerry said, adding that the U.S. has, ever since the embassy hostage crisis in 1979, “put sanctions in place specifically because of their support for terror, because of their abuse of human rights.”
“Okay, I understand that,” Brooks said. “You answered my question when you said, ‘Yes, they may.’”
Under the JCPOA, Iran will get access to more than $100 billion in formerly frozen assets early on, and then will benefit over time as sanctions fall away and foreign companies line up to invest in the Iranian oil and gas industry.
The deal also lifts the conventional arms and ballistic missile embargos, after five and eight years respectively.
Through its proxies in Lebanon and Iraq, Iran has been blamed for the deaths of hundreds of American citizens and military personnel since the 1983 U.S. Embassy and Marine Barracks bombings in Beirut.
In the second half of the Iraq war, many American fatalities were laid at the door of Iran and Iranian-backed Shi’ite militia. According to Gen. Joseph Dunford, nominated to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the head of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC)–Qods Force, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, was alone responsible for the deaths of at least 500 U.S. soldiers and Marines in Iraq.
Hezbollah, the Iranian-directed and armed group in Lebanon that was implicated in the 1983 Beirut bombings and is Israel’s foremost enemy, already receives some $200 million from Iran each year, along with weapons and equipment.
Also appearing before the House panel on Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said Iran would need a lot of the money it gets as a result of the JCPOA to ensure its oil and gas industries are “up and running properly.”
“I wish I could say that zero, not a nickel, would go to malign purposes,” Lew said. “But even with the current sanctions regime they’re finding the money to put into malign purposes. The question is, do they do it with or without a nuclear weapon?”