I say to every Israeli that today we have the ability to stop [the Iranians] if they decided to move quickly to a bomb and I absolutely guarantee that in the future we will have the ability to know what they are doing so that we can still stop them if they decided to move to a bomb.This is not the first time Kerry has used the word "guarantee" in reference to the Iran nuclear deal. A month ago, in an interview with PBS's Judy Woodruff, Kerry responded as follows when Woodruff asked if this deal was more about delaying Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons than about denying those weapons altogether:
SECRETARY KERRY: Absolutely not. Not in the least. No, it is not just about that. It’s about denying them a nuclear weapon. And the reason I can say that with confidence is that we will have a sufficient level of transparency, of inspections, of accountability, of tracing of uranium, of following the production of their centrifuges, of knowing what is happening in their program, that if they began to increase their enrichment in order to be able to move to create a nuclear weapon, we would know immediately and be able to take actions.As Kristol points out in his editorial, absolute guarantees when it comes to Iran's nuclear progress are wishful thinking at best. And even though the deal purportedly binds Iran for 10 years, Kerry sanguinely extends his "guarantee" to "15 to 20 years."
So I don’t agree with that assessment. This is a guarantee that for the next 15 to 20 years they won’t possibly be able to advance that program. And then when they become a more legitimate member of the nonproliferation community and subject to lifetime inspections and investigation, we will have accountability.
In any case, as with all guarantees, it's the fine print that matters. And with the extent of Congress's oversight of the proposed deal still in doubt, it remains to be seen whether or not anyone will read that fine print before a final deal with Iran is signed.
Note: A version of this post first appeared at The Weekly Standard.