(CNSNews.com) – Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday night that Iran has reaped just $3 billion so far as a result of the nuclear deal, despite critics’ claims that it would get more than $100 billion in frozen assets.
Touting the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) at a gala dinner hosted by liberal lobby group J Street – one of the few Jewish organizations to have supported the agreement – Kerry said those who spoke of Iran getting $155 billion or $100 billion were wrong.
The administration itself put the figure at around $55 billion, citing Treasury and intelligence analysis, saying that Iran won’t have all the assets at its disposal because some of it was tied up in debts.
But Kerry said Iran has to date received much less than even that amount.
“Do you remember the debate over how much money Iran was going to get?” he asked. “Sometimes you hear some of the presidential candidates putting a mistaken figure out of $155 billion. I’ve never heard – we never thought it would be that.”
While others thought it would be about $100 billion, he said, “We calculated it to be about $55 billion, when you really take a hard look at the economy and what is happening.”
“Guess what, folks. You know how much they have received to date as I stand here tonight? About $3 billion,” Kerry said. “So what we said to people was true.”
On the JCPOA more broadly, Kerry said that by any measurable standard, it has shown itself to be the best way available to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapons capability.
“The politics may have been complicated, but all of the noise of last summer could never obscure the critical fact, the undeniable fact: JCPOA, as it’s known, remains by far the best way to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.”
He cited the deal’s restrictions on uranium enrichment, reduction of Iran’s stockpile of enriched material, and access to suspect facilities.
“A country that was two months away from the potential of breaking out is now at least a year away, and we have the capacity to know what they are doing,” Kerry said. “And despite the skeptics’ most dire predictions, we are in a place that some people thought was unimaginable and others unacceptable.”
Breakout refers to the period of time it would take the Iranians to acquire the material needed for one nuclear weapon, once it initiates the work.
Kerry’s assertion that Iran has received only $3 billion as a result of the nuclear deal is at odds with Tehran’s claim in early February that it had already received access to more than $100 billion in formerly frozen assets.
Iranian officials have been complaining, however, that the expected benefits from reaching the accord have been slow in coming.
Kerry is scheduled to meet with his Iranian counterpart, Javad Zarif, in New York on Tuesday, with JCPOA implementation high on the agenda.
On Saturday, Zarif said he would ask Kerry to ease restrictions faced by foreign banks wanting to do business in Iran but leery of falling foul of those U.S. sanctions that remain in place.
State Department spokesman John Kirby said Monday the administration was “obviously aware of these concerns that they’ve expressed about the status of sanctions relief, and the secretary is very mindful that that topic will come up tomorrow, that that is very much on Foreign Minister Zarif’s mind.”
While many U.S. sanctions were lifted when administration waivers of relevant sanctions laws took effect on JCPOA “implementation day” last January, others remain in place. They include secondary sanctions – those targeting foreign firms – imposed in response to Iran’s ballistic missile activity, support for terrorism, human rights abuses and destabilizing behavior in the region.
Most sanctions that apply to U.S. companies remain in place, with some exceptions, such as the sale of commercial aircraft.
Kerry and others have acknowledged that Iran will use some of the money it receives as a result of the deal to support terror.