Jacques Audibert, senior diplomatic adviser to French president Francois Hollande, who led that nation’s diplomatic team in the discussions with Iran and the P5+1 group, believes that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is being a bit too apocalyptic in his warnings about a congressional rejection of the Iran nuclear deal.
Kerry has said repeatedly that a congressional rejection of the P5+1 deal will bring about a disaster of almost biblical proportions. Though the secretary stops short of fire and brimstone in his grim pronouncements, he is nevertheless adamant that he coaxed as much out of Iran as was possible, and that any attempts to extract further concessions will lead to a global loss of respect for the U.S. as a bargainer in good faith and ultimately war:
“If Congress rejects this, Iran goes back to its enrichment. The Ayatollah will not come back to the table … the sanctions regime completely falls apart,” he said.
“We will have set ourselves back. I don’t know how I go out to another country if that happens and say: ‘Hey, you ought to negotiate with us,’ because they will say: ‘Well, you have 535 secretaries of state in the United States. We don’t know who we are negotiating with. Whatever deal we make always risks being overturned.’”
[W]e will have squandered the best chance we have to solve the problem through peaceful means.
In an interview with New York magazine titled “John Kerry Tells Congress Not to Go Chasing Unicorns,” in his criticism of critics of the deal:
The alternative to the deal we’ve reached isn’t what we’re seeing ads for on TV, it isn’t a better deal, some sort of unicorn arrangement involving Iran’s complete capitulation. That’s a fantasy, plain and simple.
Audibert disagrees. Earlier this month he met with Democrat Loretta Sanchez and Republican Mike Turner, both top members of the House Armed Services Committee, to discuss the Iran deal:
According to both lawmakers, Audibert … directly disputed Kerry’s claim that a Congressional rejection of the Iran deal would result in the worst of all worlds, the collapse of sanctions and Iran racing to the bomb without restrictions.
“He basically said, if Congress votes this down, there will be some saber-rattling and some chaos for a year or two, but in the end nothing will change and Iran will come back to the table to negotiate again and that would be to our advantage,” Sanchez [said] in an interview. “He thought if the Congress voted it down, that we could get a better deal.” [Emphasis added]
Cross-posted at The Lid