Former Secretary of State John Kerry revealed earlier this week that just prior to negotiations on the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the leaders of Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia pushed hard for the US to preemptively strike Iran. Kerry divulged the information during a panel discussion at a nuclear weapons reduction forum at Washington National Cathedral on Tuesday where he defended the deal, saying those that wanted harsher action would have led the nation into another major Middle East war.
Kerry described the lead up to the deal as involving intense and aggressive lobbying toward military escalation by the three countries, whose leaders attempted to personally intervene. “Each of them said to me: You have to bomb Iran, it’s the only thing they are going to understand,” Kerry related at Tuesday’s forum.
He further explained, “I remember that conversation with President Mubarak. I looked at him and said: It’s easy for you to say. We go bomb them and I bet you’ll be the first guy out there the next day to criticize us for doing it. And he went: ‘Of course, ha-ha-ha-ha!’”
Kerry also identified Benjamin Netanyahu as taking a clear lead role in pushing for direct military action against Iran, saying, “It was a trap in a lot of ways. But more importantly, Prime Minister Netanyahu was genuinely agitating towards action.”
Though it’s not clear exactly when these exchanges took place, Kerry chaired the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 2006-2013 before his term as Secretary of State under Obama. This was also the same post-Iraq invasion period that regime change in Syria was being openly discussed. Syria has long been seen as Iran’s closest ally and as constituting a key potential geographic land bridge linking Shia allies from Iran and Iraq to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
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