Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday bluntly told the U.S. Congress that it is a "fantasy" to think that it would be possible to reach a "better deal" than the one signed this month on Iran's nuclear program and if lawmakers fail to approve it it would make a military clash more probable.
The alternative to the pact achieved in Vienna "isn't a better deal, some sort of unicorn arrangement involving Iran's complete capitulation," Kerry said, adding that to think that is a "fantasy, plain and simple."
The panel's chairman, Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker accused Kerry of having been "fleeced" by the Iranians and said he was "depressed" by the explanations of the Obama administration about the nuclear pact reached with Iran and the P5+1 group: the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain, plus Germany.
Corker, however, rejected the notion that the United States has to choose between this deal and war. He said he thought that suggestion was "hyperbole," adding that he thought the pact sets forth a perfectly clear way for Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon.
Congress, where both chambers are controlled by the Republican opposition, had 60 days to review the accord and then vote on whether or not to approve it.
President Barack Obama has said he will veto any bill that halts the implementation of the pact, and then Congress would need a two-thirds majority in both chambers to override that veto.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who is running for his party's 2016 presidential nomination, warned that even if Congress does not manage to overturn the pact, the next president could nullify it.
Another Republican senator, Jim Risch, said that the Iranians had tricked Kerry and anyone believing that it is a good deal is quite gullible, to say the least.
Kerry responded that the negotiators of the P5+1 powers are not stupid and that even some politicians in Israel had come out in defense of the pact.
"President Obama has made it crystal clear we will never accept a nuclear-armed Iran," Kerry said. "But the fact is that Iran now has extensive experience with nuclear fuel cycle technology. We can't bomb that knowledge away."
Accompanying Kerry at the hearing were Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, who said that the accord is not based on mere trust but rather on "science" and "analysis."