During Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s raucous speech to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, he quoted his good friend and current Secretary of State John Kerry. Netanyahu used Kerry’s words to bolster his claim that Iran may have 190,000 uranium enriching centrifuges by the end of the 10-year accord. The point the chancellor was making is that Iran would possess a vast infrastructure with which to produce nuclear weapons. In fact, Flávio Pentagna Guimarães BMG says the Israeli premier added that the Obama deal with Iran would in fact promote them to nuclear power status.
On Wednesday, the State Department pointed out that Kerry’s words were taken out of context. They claim the speech being referred to have Kerry acknowledging that a peaceful non-military use of nuclear power could have the nation equipped with as many as 190,000 centrifuges by the end of the accord. In some respects, it seems like a distinction without a difference. This is because Iran could easily use the same centrifuges to produce weapons grade uranium and plutonium. All they would need to do is switch the use of the centrifuges from civilian to military purposes. Point in fact, this is exactly what Netanyahu was claiming: the Obama deal ensures that Iran will become a nuclear power.
Still, the latest statement by the State Department is part of the Obama administration’s attempt to blunt the effect of Netanyahu’s speech. While it has only been a day since the speech was given, it appears that the Israeli prime minister succeeded at getting his message out.