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McCain: John Kerry's negotiations with Iran are "delusional"

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) speaks during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol February 5, 2015 in Washington, DC.

Win McNamee, Getty Images

Secretary of State John Kerry is "delusional" about the terms of the developing Iran nuclear deal, Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said Thursday on a radio show.

McCain's remarks followed an assertion from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who said that Iran "will not sign any agreement, unless all economic sanctions are totally lifted on the first day of the implementation of the deal."

McCain, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, told radio host Hugh Hewitt that "John Kerry must have known what was in" the developing deal, "and yet chose to interpret it in another way."

"I think you're going to find out that they had never agreed to the things that John Kerry claimed that they had," he said. "I think John Kerry tried to come back and sell a bill of goods, hoping maybe that the Iranians wouldn't say much about it."

McCain also charged that Saudi Arabia has lost confidence in the U.S. because of the Iran negotiations and may be compelled to develop its own nuclear capability.

"Now they have lost all confidence in the United States," he said. "They see this cozying up to the Iranians, and they are having to go their own way. And part of going their own way, by the way, is having their own nuclear capability."

Kerry told "CBS This Morning" co-host Norah O'Donnell this week that the deal he's developed with Iran and five other global powers is better than no deal at all.

"First of all, the sanctions were put in place to bring them to negotiations," said Kerry. "That was the entire purpose. So now that they've negotiated and have an agreement, people can't complain and say, 'oh my gosh, if they comply with all the things they said, they're going to do what we wanted them to do, we're going to now not lift them (sanctions).' Doesn't work. There's no equation there. It simply doesn't work."

The deal taking shape would constrain Iran's nuclear program for about 15 years, and the Obama administration has insisted it would deny Iran a path to a nuclear weapon during that time. The deal would also give Tehran access to global financial markets and assets from which it has been cut off by the sanctions. A final agreement is to be reached by June 30.

McCain said that alternatively, the U.S. could increase the sanctions "to the point where we could really put enormous pressure, economic pressure, on the Iranians." Then, he said, "they would sooner or later come back to the bargaining table and we would get what was originally intended in these negotiations, which is the total abandonment of the course, a path to nuclear weapons rather than what it's turned, morphed into, which is a delay."