Kerry’s nuke deal testimony translated in Iran

WASHINGTON (AP) — The latest developments on Obama administration officials’ testimony Tuesday before Congress on the Iran nuclear deal (all times local EDT):

12:53 p.m.

Iran’s state TV’s broadcast of Secretary of State John Kerry’s testimony before Congress on a landmark nuclear agreement was simultaneously translated into Farsi and a news bar highlighting specific remarks.

It’s the second time state TV has broadcast Kerry’s testimony this week, marking a further departure from Iran’s longtime policy of not broadcasting remarks by U.S. officials. State TV has carried two speeches by President Barack Obama on the nuclear deal.

The decision to broadcast parts of the hearing is seen as part of the government’s efforts to familiarize Iranians with the decision-making process in the United States. The two countries have not had diplomatic relations for more than three decades and are fiercely divided on a host of regional issues.

12:07 p.m.

One of the most prominent Jewish Democrats in the House says he’s backing the Iran nuclear deal, a major gain for the Obama administration in its quest for support.

Seventeen-term Rep. Sander Levin of Michigan said in a statement that the accord “offers the best option to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.”

Levin said he believes that Israel, the Middle East and the world are far more secure if Iran doesn’t move toward possession of a nuclear weapon.

Levin has been a strong supporter of Israel.

12:04 p.m.

Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee are firing tough questions at Secretary of State John Kerry over the Iranian nuclear deal, asking him pointedly why the American people should trust that the Obama administration has negotiated a good deal.

Kerry is vehemently defending the agreement. He claims that if Congress rejects it, Iran will go back to enriching uranium and there is no way that the Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei would return to the negotiating table given his ongoing mistrust of the West.

Moreover, Kerry says his effort to conduct diplomacy across the world will be hampered. Other countries, he says, will wonder if they are negotiating with the Obama administration or some 535 members of Congress acting as secretaries of state.

11:40 a.m.

In Iran, those watching state-run television are getting their first glimpse of a live U.S. Congressional hearing.

Live coverage of any event from America has been unheard of in Tehran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. However, warming ties between the two nations, capped by the July 14 nuclear deal in Vienna, has seen President Barack Obama appear live on state television twice in recent years giving speeches.

10:48 a.m.

Secretary of State John Kerry is warning members of Congress that if they vote to disapprove the nuclear deal negotiated with Iran, Tehran will move forward toward an atomic bomb, international sanctions will crumble and the U.S. will be left without with any of the access and inspections that are part of the deal.

Kerry told members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee that they face a choice between an agreement that will curb Iran’s nuclear program and impose strict inspections, or no deal at all. If the U.S. walks away from the agreement, Kerry says America’s international partners will not follow.

He pledged that the U.S. will continue to push back against Iran for its support of terrorism and human rights violations. But he says it will be harder to push back against a nuclear-armed Iran.

House Republicans oppose the deal and Rep. Eliot Engel, the ranking Democrat on the committee, suggested that the deal might just be pushing the “pause button” on Iran getting a nuclear weapon for 15 years.

10:10 a.m.

The Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee is blasting three of President Barack Obama’s Cabinet secretaries who are on Capitol Hill to sell the Iran nuclear deal to Congress.

California Rep. Ed Royce said that instead of considering a “verifiable” and “enforceable” agreement,” lawmakers are being asked to consider what he said was a deal giving Iran permanent sanctions relief for temporary nuclear restrictions.

Royce says the agreement’s inspections regime falls short. And he says he’s upset that Iran will get what he dubbed a “cash bonanza” further emboldening Tehran in the region.

Secretary of State John Kerry, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew are testifying as part of ongoing hearings and briefings from Obama officials. Lawmakers have begun a 60-day review of the plan.