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

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter 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 Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid