News / Middle East

Kerry Sees 'Finite' Time for Iran Nuclear Talks

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) speaks to Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan before their meeting at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, March 4, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) speaks to Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan before their meeting at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, March 4, 2013.
Reuters
US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday there was "finite" time for talks between Iran and world powers on its disputed nuclear programme to bear fruit, but gave no hint how long Washington may be willing to negotiate.

Israel, Iran's arch-enemy and convinced that Tehran is secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons, has grown impatient with the protracted talks and has threatened pre-emptive war against Tehran if it deems diplomacy ultimately futile.

Kerry's sentiment was largely echoed by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, who said the negotiations cannot be endless like the debates of philosophers over how many angels can fit on the head of a pin.

"There is a finite amount of time," said Kerry, in the Saudi capital Riyadh on his first overseas trip as the top U.S. diplomat, said of the talks between a group of six world powers and Tehran, Saudi Arabia's main regional adversary.

Kerry was speaking at a news conference with the prince, who suggested Iran was not showing enough seriousness about the discussions, which he said "cannot go on forever."

Iran was positive last week after talks with the powers in Kazakhstan about its nuclear work ended with an agreement to meet again. But Western officials said it had yet to do anything concrete to allay their concerns about its nuclear aspirations.

The United States, China, France, Russia, Britain and Germany offered modest relief from economic sanctions in return for Iran reining in its most sensitive nuclear activity but made clear that no breakthrough was in the offing quickly.

Angels on head of pin

"We can't be like the philosophers who keep talking about how many angels a pinhead can hold," Prince Saud al-Faisal said. "They [the Iranians] have not proved to anybody the urgency in their negotiation," he said. "They reach common understanding only on issues that require further negotiation. And so this is what [has] worried us."

The United States and many of its allies suspect Iran may be using its civil nuclear program as a cover to develop nuclear weapons, a possibility that Israel, which is regarded as the Middle East's only nuclear power, sees as a mortal threat.

The possibility also deeply disturbs many Arab countries in the Gulf which, some analysts say, could choose to pursue their own nuclear programs if Iran were to acquire a nuclear bomb, leading to a destabilising arms race.

In Vienna on Monday, the U.N. nuclear watchdog raised pressure on Iran to finally address suspicions that it has sought to design a nuclear bomb, calling for swift inspector access to a military base where relevant explosives tests are believed to have been carried out.

Iran says its programme is solely for peaceful purposes, such as generating electricity and making medical isotopes.

Kerry, in the final stages of a nine-nation, 11-day trip that will also take him to Abu Dhabi and Doha, also had lunch with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss the possibility of reviving peace talks with Israel.

Making his first trip abroad as secretary of state, Kerry also met Saudi Crown Prince Salman but a U.S. official said he would not see Saudi King Abdullah, who turns 90 this year.
        
Bruce Riedel, an analyst with the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington, said the king's health probably was the reason Kerry did not meet him.
        
"It is virtually unprecedented for a Saudi King not to see a senior visitor like Kerry. Even when [former King] Fahd was all but brain dead from a stroke, then Crown Prince Abdallah and the royal family insisted he see foreign visitors as a symbol of the King's authority," said Riedel. "There is no sign of royal displeasure with America, so health is the likely reason."
        
Diplomacy is 'first choice'

Kerry said a diplomatic solution on Iran is still preferred by the United States and Saudi Arabia.

In 2008, Riyadh's ambassador to Washington said King Abdullah had repeatedly urged Washington to ``cut off the head of the snake'' by striking Iran's nuclear facilities, according to a U.S. diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks.

"We both prefer - and this is important for Iranians to hear and understand - we both prefer diplomacy as the first choice, the preferred choice,'' Kerry said. ``But the window for a diplomatic solution simply cannot by definition remain open indefinitely."

Echoing Western concerns about a possible nuclear arms race in the Middle East in the event that Iran obtained a nuclear bomb, Kerry made a series of arguments for Gulf Arab countries not to pursue a military nuclear capability.

These included standing U.S. policy to prevent Iran from acquiring such arms, the dangers of nuclear proliferation, the diversion of resources that could otherwise go to economic development, and the general trend by the United States and Russia toward reducing their doomsday arsenals.

"The threat is not just the threat of a nuclear bomb, the threat is also the threat of a dirty bomb or of nuclear material being used by terrorists," said Kerry.

In December 2011, former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal said that if Tehran did gain nuclear weapons capability, Saudi Arabia should consider matching it.

Riyadh also has announced plans to develop 17 gigawatts of atomic energy by 2032 as it moves to reduce domestic oil consumption, freeing up more crude for export.

You May Like

Anti-Terror Drills Highlight China’s Push Into Central Asia

China, Russia, several central Asian countries wrap up massive anti terrorism military drills in Inner Mongolia More

Erdogan’s First Step: Secure More Power in New Role in Turkey

Erdogan was sworn in as Turkey's first popularly elected president on Thursday; he picked former foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu as PM More

Pakistan Army Fails to Break Political Deadlock

PM Sharif claims he didn't ask army to defuse crisis; military rejects claim More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Ben
March 05, 2013 7:09 AM
America`s old friends-the conservative Arab regimes,their interests of security are neglected by actions,like Hagel`s (Iran`s supporter nomination.The words not actions of the American government means not a lot.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assaulti
X
Daniel Schearf
August 29, 2014 9:30 PM
After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.

AppleAndroid