State Dept Defends Kerry Receiving Prize for Iran Nuke Deal

State Department spokesman John Kirby defended his boss, Secretary of State John Kerry, on Monday for accepting an award for his role in negotiating the Iran nuclear deal along with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Kirby and Zarif were given the annual Chatham House Prize for finalizing the agreement in July 2015 and working to implement it in January 2016. Critics of the deal in the United States say that it does not do enough to curb Iran's nuclear capabilities and gives the Islamic Republic too much sanctions relief without addressing the country's malign activities in the Middle East.

Associated Press reporter Matt Lee asked Kirby during the State Department daily press briefing about Kerry receiving the award for the controversial deal. Kirby said the work that led to the deal was a team effort, both with international partners and within the U.S. government.

Lee asked Kirby about the timing of the award and whether Kerry was comfortable receiving it now, noting that much of the deal's outcomes are still unknown with some conclusions yet to be seen.

"I think he's comfortable accepting it on behalf of the whole team that was involved in it, and I think the secretary would take issue with the continued criticism about the degree to which the deal makes the region and the United States safer–he believes it does," Kirby said. "About the degree to which Iran is complying with their commitments, thus far they have been and so have we."

Kirby acknowledged Iran's other destabilizing activities, such as its continued sponsorship of terrorism.