APRIL 2, 2015 – In his first interview since an agreed-upon framework with Iran to resolve major issues on its nuclear program, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell that there will be “extraordinary, extensive verification measures that have not been applied before” in observing centrifuge production, including “state of the art television cameras” within the facilities as well as “radio transmitter seals on centrifuges” that will signal potential tampering.
Sec. Kerry also asked members of Congress to “make the judgment based on facts” when it comes to having confidence in the agreement.
Portions of Mitchell’s interview with Sec. Kerry will air this evening on “NBC Nightly News” and tomorrow on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports.” The interview will also available in full online. The interview transcript is available below.
Mitchell has been in Switzerland since Friday to cover the Iran nuclear talks, reporting live for both NBC News and MSNBC. Follow her on Twitter @MitchellReports for the latest.
MANDATORY CREDIT: NBC NEWS
# # #
MITCHELL: Mr. Secretary, President Obama said if Iran cheats, we will know it. How can you be so sure? They’ve cheated before.
KERRY: Well we have extraordinary extensive verification measures that have not been applied before. We will have state of the art television cameras within centrifuge production facilities. We will have cradle to grave tracking of uranium, uranium from the mine to the mill to the yellowcake to the gas to the centrifuge to out and where it goes.
So we have, you know, there’s an amazing amount. And we have a new dispute process which will allow us to be able to finalize access where we need it. So we are–we feel very strongly that there’s going to be joint venturing, that people are going to be in there, whether it’s China or Korea or France or one country or another. There will be a lot of insight into the Iranian program. We already have a lot. And we’ve found over the course of the last months that the interim agreement, everybody agrees, has been lived up to. And nobody, therefore, is feeling that we don’t have the ability to be able to put the tracking in place that we need.
MITCHELL: Critics have said that you’re not accounting for past suspicious activity, warheads, missiles. What about past activity?
KERRY: We actually have accounted for it. We know they have them. [chuckles] And we also know they did some things. We absolutely do. And I can’t go into all the details of that. But we’re going forward to be able to prevent them from doing those kinds of things. And we’re very, very confident about the regime that’s in place. There’s an additional protocol which has to be applied, which hasn’t been, which is required by the NPT now. They’ve agreed to accept it, ratify it, live by it. There’s beyond that several different codes that will be applied. And there are new measures that have never been applied–like radio transmitter seals on centrifuges so you don’t have to wait for the inspector to go in. You get an instantaneous knowledge that something’s being tampered with. So there’s just lots of things here. And obviously we’re going to have to be vigilant. But you can’t, you know, develop the bomb without the uranium. And you have to have the enriched uranium. And that’s why we’ve XX. There will be no enrichment in facilities where it had been previously. No fissile material in those facilities. And we will have inspectors on a regular basis determining that.
So, we feel very strongly that the knowledgeable expert community, as they look at this, is going to have a sense of confidence. And that’s something we’ve been doing a lot of work to ascertain before we reached an agreement.
MITCHELL: But what about Congress? They’re not always the knowledgeable, scientific community–even after being briefed.
KERRY: Congress will–Congress, I know, will, you know, spend the time and look at this closely and some have already made up their minds and there’s sort of an automatic response and we understand that. But I think most senators and congressmen are going to want to see this, examine it, talk to people, listen to the experts. And that’s what we ask them to do, make the judgment based on facts.
MITCHELL: Mr. Zarif said there will be no sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran. But you haven’t agreed on the timing of when the sanctions are phased out?
KERRY: No, we haven’t agreed on the lifting–well, he’s right in the sense that when the agreement is over, there won’t be. So that’s a correct statement, ultimately. But in the meantime, there will be restrictions and restraints. The arms embargo, ballistic missile–those haven’t been lifted. So we will–those are things we need to continue to negotiate. What’s the timing? What’s the methodology? But we’re approaching it very carefully in order to be certain about what happens.
MITCHELL: Yet he read a very boilerplate statement and the fact sheet that you and the president released is much more specific. If you couldn’t agree on standing up together and announcing together exactly what you’ve agreed on, here, what makes you think that in the next three months you’re going to actually come to an agreement?
KERRY: Because there’s a great deal of difference for them between what happens now and where this goes and what can happen when you have a final signature. And there are a lot of things that get worked out that are important to them in that context that don’t get worked out now in terms of limitations. So we fully understand that. And in fact, we discussed it at great length. There are internal documents that people are working with, which are quite specific and uh–
MITCHELL: You think you can get a deal by June?
KERRY: I hope–look, it’s really dependent on the same kind of willingness to negotiate that we just found here. You can’t negotiate, you know, just one party. You got to have everybody who was party to the negotiations has to be engaged and working at it. So we’ll see. I’m not promising anything, nor is the president. What we’ve done is open up the opportunity. We have a chance now to work with Congress, answer questions, to look at this carefully, and negotiate it out in an appropriate way and seal the deal. But the people I’ve talked to who’ve just become aware of where we are seemed to be quite satisfied that this is much stronger than they thought it would be.
MITCHELL: Now you’ve been locked in a room without sleep–I don’t know about food and water–but are you aware of the impact you’ve had on Switzerland? The biking, the whole John Kerry, the whole John Kerry pop culture craze?
KERRY: No, no, I have no sense of it. I haven’t seen anything. I’m sleep deprived.
MITCHELL: We’ll fill you in later.
KERRY: Thank you.
MITCHELL: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary. Thank you for taking the time.
# # #
For more information contact:
# # #
ABOUT NBC NEWS
NBC News is a global leader in news across all broadcast and digital platforms. Its leading and award-winning television news broadcasts include NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, TODAY, Meet the Press and Dateline, as well as primetime specials and breaking news reports. The rapidly-growing NBC News Digital Group, along with the well-established NBC News Radio with 750 stations nationwide, provide continuous content to consumers wherever they are, whenever they want it. NBC News also operates Peacock Productions, an award-winning in-house production company, and the NBC NewsChannel affiliate news service. NBC News is part of the NBCUniversal News Group, a division of NBCUniversal, which is owned by Comcast Corporation.
NBC News is a division of NBCUniversal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies. For more corporate information, visit www.nbcuniversal.com.
# # #