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The Latest: Kerry says nobody ‘pulled the wool’ over US eyes

WASHINGTON (AP) — The latest in a hearing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is conducting on the agreement the United States and five other world powers struck this month with Iran to rein in its nuclear weapons program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions (asterisk)(all times local):

11:54 a.m.

Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer of California is chiding her Republican colleagues on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for saying Secretary of State John Kerry and representatives of the other world powers that negotiated or approved the nuclear agreement with Iran were “fleeced” and “bamboozled” by Tehran.

Boxer recited a list of nations around the world that back the deal and said her Republican colleagues were being disrespectful.

Boxer told Kerry that if he were “bamboozled, the world was bamboozled.”

Republican Sen. Bob Corker, the committee’s chairman, said in his opening statement that Kerry was “fleeced” and GOP Sen. James Risch of Idaho said he was “bamboozled.”

Kerry praised members of the negotiating team and said nobody “pulled the wool” over their eyes.

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11:28 a.m.

Republican Sen. Jim Risch is slamming the Iran nuclear deal.

The Idaho senator says that anyone who believes the accord is a good deal “really joins the ranks of the most naive people on the face of the earth.”

Risch says it makes no sense to trust Iran to hold up its side of the deal. He addressed his comments to Secretary of State John Kerry, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, who were seated at the witness stand Thursday on Capitol Hill.

Risch tells the Cabinet secretaries: “With all due respect, you guys have been bamboozled and the American people are going to have to pay for it.”

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11:18 a.m. EDT

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew is telling the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the United States’ international partners that negotiated the nuclear deal with Iran would “balk” if the U.S. asked them to continue to impose economic sanctions without implementing the diplomatic solution reached with Tehran.

If that happened, Lew says, the U.S. would be left with neither a nuclear deal, nor any effective sanctions.

He says it is “unrealistic to think that additional sanctions pressure would force Iran to totally capitulate.” And he says it’s impractical to think the U.S. could marshal a global coalition of partners to impose such sanctions pressure after turning down a deal that the other world powers in the negotiation “believe is a good one.”

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Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz(moh-NEES’) is defending the Iran nuclear deal saying it is “pretty hard-nosed” and wasn’t what Tehran had envisioned in the final deal.

Moniz tells the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: “This is not what Iran wanted.”

He says “the deal is not built on trust. It’s pretty hard-nosed.” He’s seeking to persuade skeptical lawmakers that the deal is in the U.S. national security interest.

Moniz adds that the agreement substantially roll backs Iran’s nuclear program.

He says, “The deal is based on science and analysis. I’m confident that this is a good deal for America”

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10:45

Secretary of State John Kerry is casting the choice on the Iran nuclear deal in stark terms — an agreement that would limit the Islamic nation’s nuclear program, or no deal at all.

Kerry is testifying before a Senate committee as the Obama administration publicly defends the much-debated accord. The administration is facing unified Republican opposition and doubts among some Democrats.

Kerry also argues that if the deal is rejected, the diplomatic support the United States has garnered in recent years would evaporate.

He tells the panel: “It’s a question of how do you hold their program back.”

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10:25 a.m.

The Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee tells Kerry point-blank that “you’ve been fleeced” by the Iranians in the recently completed nuclear agreement.

Kerry was greeted with applause from anti-war demonstrators as a handful of members from CodePink rose in the hearing room. But the mood turned critical immediately as Sen. Bob Corker, who heads the panel, gaveled the hearing to order.

Corker tells Kerry he’s “fairly depressed” after listening to the secretary answer lawmakers’ questions Wednesday about the agreement in a classified briefing.

Kerry is testifying with Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz (moh-NEES’) and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew about the deal Congress is expected to vote on in September.

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