John Kerry Says GOP Letter to Iran Was ‘Wrong’ | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

John Kerry Says GOP Letter to Iran Was ‘Wrong’

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt—Secretary of State John Kerry, a day ahead of new nuclear negotiations with Iran, stressed to Tehran’s leadership that President Barack Obama has the power to implement any agreement reached with the country, despite intense opposition from Republican lawmakers in Congress.

Iran’s most powerful political figure, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, expressed reservations this week about the White House’s ability to execute a deal after 47 Republican senators wrote in an open letter to Tehran that Congress ultimately will decide the fate of any deal.

Mr. Kerry said on Saturday in Egypt that these American lawmakers were “wrong.”

“It is almost inevitable it will raise questions in the minds of the folks with whom we’re negotiating as to whether or not they are negotiating with the executive department and the president, which is what the constitution says, or whether there are 535 members of Congress,” Mr. Kerry told reporters in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

“Let me make clear to Iran…that from our point of view, this letter is incorrect in its statements,” he added. “As far as we are concerned, the Congress has no ability to change an executive agreement.”

Mr. Kerry will start a week of negotiations with his Iranian counterpart, Javad Zarif, in the Swiss city of Lausanne on Sunday night.

U.S. and Iranian officials have cited a March 31 diplomatic deadline to reach a political agreement that would outline the steps to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for a lifting of Western sanctions.

The congressional letter has emerged as a wild card in the diplomacy, however.

Mr. Khamenei, in a speech on Thursday, questioned whether the American political system would allow for an agreement. The cleric is seen by the U.S. as the ultimate arbiter on the nuclear diplomacy and other security issues.

“U.S. senators officially announced that when this government leaves, its commitments will become nullified,” Mr. Khamenei said. “Isn’t that the ultimate collapse of political ethics and the disintegration of the U.S. system?”

Mr. Kerry said it was too soon to know if the supreme leader’s statement could adversely affect the diplomacy and the hopes of meeting the late March deadline.

“We have heard some comments from the supreme leader regarding the letter that was sent by the 47 senators, and until I engage in those conversations [in Switzerland], I cannot gauge on a personal level that reaction,” he said.

Mr. Kerry was attending a conference in Sharm el-Sheikh focused on promoting investment in Egypt.

The chief American diplomat said the Obama administration strongly supports President Abdel Fatah Al Sisi’s efforts to revitalize the Egyptian economy. But Mr. Kerry also said the U.S. wants to see the former general move ahead with efforts to open up the country’s political system and media.

“It is important to make certain that Egypt can move on the road to development and the full achievement of its democratic aspirations,” he said.

Mr. Kerry also said the Obama administration was closely watching Tuesday’s elections in Israel, where polls show incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu behind.

President Barack Obama and Mr. Kerry have openly clashed with Mr. Netanyahu on the Iranian diplomacy and U.S. efforts to forge a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

Mr. Kerry said on Sunday that Washington wasn’t taking sides in the elections. But he also said the U.S. hopes the vote could pave the way for a resumption of the Middle East peace process.

“Our hopes [are] that the choice that the people of Israel make will not only meet their needs domestically and their hopes in the country but obviously meet the hopes for peace, which I think everybody shares,” he said

Some Obama administration officials have privately questioned whether Mr. Netanyahu was committed to negotiations aimed at establishing an independent Palestinian state.