Former Secretary of State John Kerry says both Israel and Egypt pushed the United States to "bomb Iran" before the 2015 nuclear deal was struck.
Defending the deal during a forum in Washington, Kerry said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was "genuinely agitating toward action."
While he was chairing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry met with Netanyahu, Saudi King Abdullah and then-Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
"Each of them said to me, 'you have to bomb Iran, it’s the only thing they are going to understand,'" he said.
"I remember the conversation with president Mubarak," Kerry added. "I looked at him and I said, 'That's easy for you to say. I bet you'd be the first guy to criticize us for doing it.' And he said, 'Of course' (and laughed)."
But Kerry said that was "a trap" in many ways because the same countries would have publicly criticized the US if it bombed.
While admitting he doesn't know whether Iran will resume pursuing a nuclear weapon in 10 to 15 years after restrictions in the deal sunset, he argued it was the best deal the US could get.
"Without exaggeration, the likelihood is very high that we would have been in a conflict (without the deal)," he noted.