Kerry says easing of sanctions in Iran would be five percent or less

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday that if sanctions are eased as part of an initial denuclearization agreement with Iran, only a small portion of the sanctions would be removed.

Kerry made the remarks on Thursday during an interview with MSNBC's "Morning Joe." Kerry discussed the prospect of postponing new sanctions on Iran. He said a deal with Iran to stop the country from making progress on its nuclear program would only ease current sanctions by five percent at most.

"Ninety-five percent or more of the current sanctions will remain in place," Kerry said. "Iran was bringing in about 110 billion, maybe a 120 billion a year in income from its oil revenues and banking and so forth. That has been knocked down to about 40 to 45 billion now because of the sanctions... All we're talking about doing is a tiny portion of that would be released, because you have to do something in order to make it worthwhile for them to say, 'Yes, we're going to lock our program where it is in today, and actually roll it back.'"

Kerry said that if the U.S. raises sanctions while negotiations are ongoing, it could be seen as a bad-faith step by the U.S.

"It will encourage the hardliners in Iran to hold President (Hassan) Rouhani and Foreign Minister (Javad) Zarif accountable for dealing with us at all because we don't operate in good faith," Kerry said. "And then we're locked into the next whatever number of years of a standoff."

Kerry said a standoff would be dangerous for the region, especially for U.S. ally Israel. He said a negotiated, peaceful resolution of the situation is a much better situation than needing to take military action to secure U.S. goals.