Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s highly anticipated speech to Congress contained a curious statement. He claimed Secretary of State John Kerry “confirmed last week that Iran could legitimately possess” 190,000 centrifuges enriching uranium by the end of a long-term nuclear agreement that the U.S. is negotiating with Iran. That, Netanyahu warned, could put Iran “weeks away” from an “arsenal of nuclear weapons.”
But that’s not what Kerry said.
In House testimony on Feb. 25, Kerry was asked about reports that the U.S. is seeking a deal that would reduce Iran’s centrifuges from 19,000 to between 6,000 and 7,000. Kerry responded by saying a “peaceful program” can have a lot of centrifuges, and the purpose of the negotiations is to make sure Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful.
“[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,” Kerry told the committee.