State Spokesman Says Iranian Parliament Chants of 'Death to America' are 'Not Helpful'

Kirby: They won't have an impact on negotiations in Vienna

June 22, 2015

State Department spokesperson John Kirby said Monday that the Iranian Parliament chants of "Death to America" are ‘not helpful.’

Iranian Parliament recently voted to ban access to military sites, documents, and scientists as part of any nuclear agreement with the United States. During the vote, some Iranian lawmakers chanted "Death to America."

On Monday, Associated Press reporter Matt Lee asked the State Department if the "Death to America" chants were a cause for concern for the nuclear negotiations or just political grandstanding.

"Does it give you any pause or any concern that a significant number of members of Parliament in Iran were chanting 'Death to America' as they voted on this law that would bar the inspections of military sites, or do you think that's political grandstanding?" Lee asked.

Kirby brushed off the chants by saying it was something that they have heard before coming from Iran. Kirby said what was more telling was they were sitting down with the team from Iran and that progress was being made.

"Work's being done, and I think that's where Secretary Kerry's focus is and that's where Wendy Sherman's focus is, the work there at the table and not necessarily the chants ... It's certainly not helpful to the kind of dialogue that we're trying to pursue," Kirby said. "But is it going to have a major impact on the negotiating teams in Vienna? No."

The Obama administration had a different view about U.S. lawmakers who wanted input on the nuclear deal. Back in March, 47 Republican lawmakers sent an open letter to the Iranian government. The purpose of the letter was to point out that any deal that is agreed up without Congress would face opposition in the United States.

President Obama criticized the 47 Republicans of making common cause with Iranian hardliners. Vice President Joe Biden accused the senators of trying to undercut the negotiations.