U.S. Has Made an ‘Irreversible Step’ With Cuba, Kerry Says
by JON SCHUPPE
Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that despite opposition to
historic agreements with longtime rivals Cuba and Iran, history will
prove that the United States did the right thing.
Speaking just hours after the United States formally restored full
diplomatic relations with Cuba, Kerry told NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell
that Republican vows to cut off financing for America’s new embassy in
Havana and to refuse to approve a Cuban ambassador “just doesn’t make
“To not be able to meet with more people in Cuba, to know what is going
on, is a huge cut off of opportunity,” Kerry said. “I just think it’s
cutting off your nose to spite your face. And it’s a shame.”
Kerry, fresh from a meeting with his Cuban counterpart, Foreign Minister
Bruno Rodriguez, answered criticism of Cuba’s human rights record by
arguing that the United States would be able to more effectively address
its concerns with diplomats able to engage officials and the public.
Those issues have been allowed to fester for the past half-century,
John Kerry ?@JohnKerry
On August 14, it will be my honor to raise the American flag at our
Embassy in Havana, #Cuba for 1st time in 56 years. #USCuba
7:15 PM – 20 Jul 2015
“We want to engage, and when you get to that point, that’s what begins
to break down the barriers,” he said.
Congressional opponents, and some Republican presidential candidates,
have vowed to keep a 53-year-old trade embargo in place, and to roll
back the advances in diplomatic relations.
But Kerry predicted that by the time President Obama’s successor takes
office in 2017, it would be virtually impossible to change course.
“I believe the president has taken an irreversible step,” Kerry said.
Turning to Iran, Kerry said efforts to scuttle a deal that would lift
economic sanctions in exchange for curtailing the country’s nuclear
program would peter out as the American people learned that the benefits
far outweighed the costs.
“This is the best opportunity to avoid conflict and to know what their
program is doing,” he said. “And if, at the end, all those inspectors
and all the rest of our knowledge of their program shows us that they
are trying to step outside it, we have every option available to us then
that we have today. We lose nothing.”
One opposition group, called Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran, has said
it plans to spend at least $20 million on advertisements and a letter
writing campaign to persuade Congress to reject the compromise, reached
last week between Iran and the so-called P5+1 — the five permanent
members of the United Nations Security Council, plus Germany.
Kerry said he planned to counter that resistance “with common sense,
with the truth” — an effort that will begin with visits to Capitol Hill
“They just want to kill it, but they don’t have an alternative,” Kerry
said. “And the status quo is unacceptable, because in the status quo,
Iran was marching full square toward having a bomb.”
Finally, Kerry defended fellow Vietnam veteran and former Senate
colleague John McCain, whose heroism as a prisoner of war was called
into question last weekend by presidential candidate Donald Trump.
McCain’s record of military service, and conduct as a prisoner of war,
“is the definition of heroism,” Kerry said. “To not understand that is
to neither understand what it meant to serve, what it means to serve, or
what heroism really is.”
Source: U.S. Has Made an ‘Irreversible Step’ With Cuba, Kerry Says – NBC