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Secretary of State John Kerry struck back at critics of the nuclear deal with Iran, saying Israel will be safer as a result and that war was not a viable alternative.
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed Tuesday's historic agreement between Iran, the U.S. and five world powers as a "bad mistake of historic proportions" that will give Iran a "sure path to nuclear weapons."
In an interview with NBC News, Kerry insisted that was not the case, saying the deal was the best option and had long-lasting implications.
"What the critics of this plan never offer... is a realistic alternative," Kerry said. "It's wrong for people to think this doesn't have long-term accountability."
Kerry dismissed Netanyahu's vocal opposition to the deal, telling NBC News that the prime minister has been "making comments that are way over the top" without having been fully briefed.
"Israel is safer" as a result of Tuesday's accord, Kerry added. "This is under attack by people who really don’t know the terms of the agreement."
Many in Israel feel Iran poses an existential threat to their country and believe that Tehran cannot be trusted with any nuclear industry. Relations between the two countries could hardly be frostier. Israel, which is believed to possess the Middle East's only nuclear arsenal, has in the past hinted it was ready to attack Iran.
Iran, meanwhile, does not officially recognize Israel, and some Iranian leaders have questioned whether the Holocaust ever happened.
Kerry stressed that if Iran fails to meet the requirements of the deal, all options remain on the table.
"The United States doesn't lose anything... by giving them the opportunity to prove this is a peaceful program," Kerry said. "What's the alternative ... go to war now?"
In a separate interview on Tuesday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said the importance of diplomacy was one of the main takeaways from the grueling negotiations.
“It shows that in our globalized world diplomacy has a much better chance of achieving results than coercion and pressure,” Zarif told NBC News. “I hope this will be a lesson.”
While he said “nothing is impossible” in the world of politics, Zarif said he thought it would be some time before relations between the U.S. and Iran were fully normalized.
“What we need to do is use this opportunity to start to bring down the very serious wall of mistrust that has been built between the two countries,” he said, decrying a “huge problem of misperception and misinformation about Iran in the U.S. over the years.
“It is high time for people in the United States to start looking at Iran without those tainted glasses."