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*-- Kerry says Obama White House achieved best Iran deal possible --*

WASHINGTON (UPI) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday defended the deal he helped strike with Iran to sidetrack Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for lifting of economic sanctions on the struggling Middle Eastern nation.

Kerry made the rounds on the Sunday morning political talk shows to discuss the deal, which took weeks to put together and finalize. In particular, Kerry refuted criticism that the deal didn't include a provision that allowed international inspectors to check nuclear sites "anytime, anywhere."

"There is no such standard within arms control inspections," Kerry said on Fox News Sunday." "We never had a discussion about 'anywhere, anytime' managed access."

Critics have argued that no such stipulation might allow Iran to conceal its nuclear activity. But Kerry said that isn't possible. What is in the deal is a provision that allows the International Atomic Energy Agency to perform inspections within 24 days of a request.

"It's virtually impossible to clean up that place," U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz told Fox News. "You can paint the floors. You can do what you want. We feel very confident that one would find the evidence of nuclear activity."

Kerry and Moniz hit all five major Sunday talk shows -- on Fox, NBC, ABC, CBS and CNN -- all taped at the White House Friday, POLITICO reported.

Kerry also defended the fact that the deal failed to secure the release of three Americans detained in Iran. But he said that doesn't mean nothing is being done.

"Every single meeting, everywhere in the world that ever took place with the Iranians, we have raised the issue of the American citizens," Kerry told Fox News. "And we are working on the issue of the American citizens even now."

On CNN's State of the Nation, Kerry said President Barack Obama delivered the best deal possible from the scenario he faced upon taking office in 2009.

"That's what Barack Obama was dealt as a hand when he came in, 19,000 centrifuges already spinning, a country that had already mastered the fuel cycle, a country that already was threshold, in the sense that they are only two months away from breakout," Kerry said.

In exchange for restricting its nuclear program to peaceful research, Tehran secured the lifting of severe economic sanctions that have hampered the nation for years -- particularly involving its oil-centric economy.

"Nothing in this agreement, nothing at all, is based on trust," Kerry said on NBC's Meet the Press. "The entire agreement is based on verification, accountability and steps we can take to respond to any violation by Iran."


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