Netanyahu takes Kerry out of context

Did Israel's PM twist US secretary of state's comments to help make his point on Iran's nuclear centrifuges to Congress?

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    Kerry was referring to nuclear energy for civilian use and not the 'arsenal of nuclear weapons' as said by Netanyahu [AP]
    Kerry was referring to nuclear energy for civilian use and not the 'arsenal of nuclear weapons' as said by Netanyahu [AP]

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu twisted a comment by US Secretary of State John Kerry into barely recognisable shape on Tuesday when addressing Congress.

    During the speech, Netanyahu said Tehran plans to build 190,000 centrifuges (a figure first used last year by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei as necessary for Iran's long-term energy needs), and continued, "[M]y long-time friend, John Kerry, secretary of state, confirmed last week that Iran could legitimately possess that massive centrifuge capacity when the deal expires".

    Netanyahu added: "Now I want you to think about that. The foremost sponsor of global terrorism could be weeks away from having enough enriched uranium for an entire arsenal of nuclear weapons."

    So did Kerry really say that?

    DC Dispatches dug up the following comment by Kerry buried in testimony given to Congress last week: "[I]f you have a civilian power plant that's producing power legitimately and not a threat to proliferation, you could have as many as 190,000 or more centrifuges. And there are millions of centrifuges involved, ultimately, [in] power plants that are producing power."

    A State Department official who works on Iran policy agreed this was the statement to which Netanyahu was referring.

    Kerry was clearly talking about nuclear energy for civilian use, and not the "arsenal of nuclear weapons" conjured by the prime minister.

    We asked if Netanyahu had indeed twisted Kerry's words to help make his point on centrifuges. A State Department spokesperson said: "I don't want to ascribe motive to it but I can assure you the secretary was not indicating that."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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