Secretary of State John Kerry, in a testy interview on Fox News, said neither he nor President Obama ever promised "anywhere, anytime" inspections for the Iran deal.
Instead, he said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz had made that statement before entering into the nuclear talks with Iran and other world powers.
What the U.S. and its negotiating partners secured, he said, is "managed access," a time window of 24 days to inspect suspicious sites and a process in which any country can make an appeal to the United Nations to gain access.
If there is evidence of nuclear development or they don't provide access to the site, the U.N. would then have the ability to "snap back" all the sanctions, something Kerry said has "never existed previously."
"Chris, don't play a game here," Kerry told "Fox News Sunday's" Chris Wallace. "The fact is in arms control, there is no country anywhere on this planet that has 'anywhere, anytime' — there is no such standard within arms inspections."
"We've never had a discussion about 'anywhere, anytime,' " he repeated. "It's called managed access under the [International Atomic Energy Agency], and everyone understands it and the intelligence community has made it clear to us they did before we signed onto this deal — that we would be able to know that they are doing in that intervening time."
Moniz, who was sitting beside Kerry during the interview, said his statement about "anywhere, anytime" inspections was taken out of context.
"Let me read the rest of the sentence. I said access anytime, anywhere in the sense of a well defined procedure and a well-defined time window to resolve it," he said.
Moniz also backed up Obama's assertion early this week that international inspectors will be able to find traces of nuclear activity at any sites even after 24 days.
"It is virtually impossible to clean up the place," Moniz said. "You can paint the floors, you can do what you want. We feel very confident that one would find the evidence of nuclear activity."