News / Middle East

Kerry Pushes Back Against Israeli Criticism of Iran Nuclear Talks

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) reaches out to shake hands with UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan at the foreign ministry in Abu Dhabi, Nov. 11, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) reaches out to shake hands with UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan at the foreign ministry in Abu Dhabi, Nov. 11, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is pushing back against Israeli criticism of a still-developing deal to limit Iran's nuclear program, saying the international community is not giving up anything by talking to Tehran's new leaders.

Kerry met Monday in Abu Dhabi with Emirate leaders, saying there is no race "to complete just any agreement" limiting Iran's nuclear program in exchange for easing some sanctions. He also said the inability to conclude such a deal in Geneva this past weekend shows there is more work to do.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his Cabinet Sunday the apparent deal is "bad and dangerous" because it lowers the pressure of sanctions while allowing Iran to retain both its capability to enrich uranium and its pursuit of a plutonium reactor.

Speaking Monday to reporters in Abu Dhabi, Kerry said Netanyahu's criticism is premature. "I believe the prime minister needs to recognize that no agreement has been reached about the endgame here. That's the subject of the negotiation."

Kerry said sanctions were put in place to bring about negotiations. So it would be irresponsible to "the concept of diplomacy as well as the potential of any future use of force" if the United States ignored a chance to reach a responsible, verifiable deal to prevent Iran from developing atomic weapons.

"The first order of business of any superpower is to exercise its power thoughtfully and respectfully. And if we had to turn to a military option because we are left no other option, we must show the world we have exhausted every possible remedy and opportunity," said Kerry.

Israel has long threatened to strike Iran militarily to prevent it from developing an atomic bomb, and Kerry said Washington remains committed to Israeli security.

Iran says it has no intention of developing nuclear weapons. But parts of its program go beyond what experts say is needed for atomic research and to generate electricity.

Netanyahu said he has discussed the plan with U.S. President Barack Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and British Prime Minister David Cameron asking them all: "Why the haste?" He said they should wait and "consider the matter seriously."

Kerry said the question is, "What would would happen without this diplomatic path? Obviously Iran will continue to ramp up enrichment activities and advance on the plutonium track while we would risk losing the international coalition that has been built up to keep Iran isolated."

Kerry spoke following talks with United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed. The UAE along with Saudi Arabia and their Gulf Coast allies have expressed concerns about Iran's nuclear ambitions, but bin Zayed Monday backed the Geneva talks.

The foreign minister said this is no doubt a difficult period, but political and diplomatic discussions are the best outcome for the Iranian issue. He said it is the hope of the United Arab Emirates that Tehran sees it has no option but to be clear and transparent about its nuclear program.

Kerry says these talks are meant to test "whether or not Iran is prepared to do what is necessary to prove that its program can only be a peaceful program."

International mediators plan to continue negotiations next week in Geneva.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs