New U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says President Barack Obama remains committed to a diplomatic solution over Iran's disputed nuclear program, but is ready to do "whatever is necessary" to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.
On the job for one full week, Secretary of State Kerry is dealing with the most pressing global issues: Iran's nuclear program, the continued bloodshed in Syria, the situation in Mali, and human rights around the world.
In his first bilateral meeting as the top U.S. diplomat, Secretary Kerry said the choice is up to Iran whether it is ready to talk or become further isolated.
He said President Obama wants a diplomatic solution in the dispute over Iran's nuclear program, but is ready to take other steps to prevent the country from developing a nuclear weapon.
"The president has made it clear that his preference is to have a diplomatic solution, but if he cannot get there, he is prepared to do whatever is necessary to make certain that Iran does not have a nuclear weapon," said Kerry.
Kerry said the P5+1 group, made up of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany, is "unified" in its approach in preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
He said the "window for diplomacy is still open" for Tehran, as the U.S. and its international partners prepare to meet with Iran in Kazakhstan in two weeks.
"We've made our position clear," said the secretary of state. "The choice is really ultimately up to Iran. The international community is ready to respond if Iran comes prepared to talk real substance and to address the concerns which could not be more clear about their nuclear program. If they don't, then they will choose to leave themselves more isolated."
Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird, who Kerry hosted at the State Department Friday, echoed concern for a nuclear-armed Iran.
"We believe that beyond Iran's material support for terrorism, beyond their abysmal and deteriorating human rights record, the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran is the biggest threat to international peace and security," he said.
Both Secretary Kerry and his visiting Canadian counterpart also expressed deep concern about the continued bloodshed in Syria.
Kerry, who succeeded Hillary Clinton in the diplomatic post, began the press availability underscoring the "extraordinary strength" in ties between the United States and its northern neighbor, which have a trillion-dollar trade relationship and a shared border of thousands of kilometers.
Secretary Kerry said they discussed the Keystone oil pipeline that would run from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast. The project has faced opposition from environmental groups and President Obama last year postponed approval of extending the pipeline, requiring more environmental impact studies.