What a relief. If, like Republican Representative Ted Poe of Texas, you’ve been taking the Iranian parliamentary chants of “Death to America!” seriously, you may have wondered yourself what the deal was with this motivational theme.
John Kerry is here to explain it to us.
When Kerry appeared before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday to defend the Iran nuclear agreement, Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) asked him about Tehran’s policy in the light of the “death to America” chants common at events presided over by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hasan Rouhani.
“It is the policy of the ayatollah – if you can answer for him – that Iran wants to destroy the United States?” Poe asked Kerry. “Is that still their policy, as far as you know?”
[Kerry:] “I don’t believe they’ve said that. I think they’ve said ‘Death to America’ in their chants, but I have not seen this specific.”
“Well, I kind of take that to mean that they want us dead,” Poe said. “That would seem like that would be their policy. He said that. That – you don’t think that’s their policy?” …
“I think they have a policy of opposition to us and of great enmity, but I have no specific knowledge of a plan by Iran to actually destroy us,” Kerry replied.
Opposition and great enmity, but if there’s a plan to destroy us, Kerry has no specific knowledge of it.
Well, and, as Kerry went on to say, the Iranian leaders’ rhetoric about us is “beyond objectionable.” So there’s that. But Kerry himself has no specific knowledge of an actual plan to destroy us.
And he ought to know. Kerry’s the one who claimed absolute knowledge, back in June, of what Iran has done to weaponize nukes:
Secretary of State John Kerry in a briefing Tuesday made a jaw-dropping comment regarding the knotty issue of Iran’s past disclosure of the possible military dimensions (PMDs) of its program. This is essential if inspectors are going to know where to look for violations. He declared that “the possible military dimensions, frankly, gets distorted a little bit in some of the discussion, in that we’re not fixated on Iran specifically accounting for what they did at one point in time or another. We know what they did. We have no doubt. We have absolute knowledge with respect to the certain military activities they were engaged in.”
Of course, there are things Kerry doesn’t have absolute (or even specific) knowledge of. He hasn’t seen the secret “side agreements” made between Iran and the IAEA to implement the inspection regime of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). He doesn’t expect to, apparently.
These side agreements are the key to getting to what the JCPOA calls “Implementation Day”: the day on which Obama has committed to begin waiving the U.S. sanctions on Iran. (See p. 156, paragraph 17, of the JCPOA text hosted here.) So basically, the certification that Iran has hit the wickets for that concession is entirely up to Iran and the IAEA, and the U.S. doesn’t even know what the terms of that certification are.
But we should definitely listen to Secretary Kerry on these things, because he knows about stuff. Except for what he has no knowledge of, which is equally significant and, frankly, dispositive, in case you were thinking otherwise. Plus there’ll be war if we don’t listen to him, and who wants that?
To summarize: Kerry has no specific knowledge of a plan by Iran to actually destroy us. Good deal.