The U.S. State Department hunkered into defense mode after Benjamin Netanyahu's congressional speech, saying in an early Wednesday statement that the Israeli prime minister misrepresented one of his claims that painted Secretary John Kerry in a poor light.
Jen Psaki, spokeswoman for the State Department, referred to the website FactCheck.org to make her point that Netanyahu's remarks about Iran going nuclear actually "misrepresented what Kerry had said' during the secretary's House Foreign Affairs Committee testimony on Feb. 25, Fox News reported.
In his speech, Netanyahu said Kerry told Congress Iran could "legitimately possess" up to 190,000 centrifuges used to enrich uranium by the time the 10-year nuclear limits spelled out in an emerging U.S.-Tehran nuclear deal expired. Netanyahu said such amount would put Iran just "weeks away from having enough enriched uranium for an entire arsenal of nuclear weapons and this, with full international legitimacy."
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Psaki sent out the FactCheck.org article, however, to prove that Kerry had actually told Congress that 190,000 centrifuges could also be used for peaceable purposes – that the amount was not necessarily proof the nation was developing nuclear weapons.
His actual words to Congress in February, Fox News reported: "[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."
Netanyahu's speech to Congress was aimed in part at pressing the White House to forge a better nuclear deal with Tehran because the one that's emerging – particularly, the portion that gives an almost good behavior reward to Iran for 10 years of compliance – is seen as a danger to Israel.