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

Video Iran Nuclear Deal Becomes US Campaign Issue

Voters in three crucial battleground states - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania - overwhelmingly oppose nuclear deal with Iran More

With IS in Coalition Cross-Hairs, al-Qaida's Syria Affiliate Reemerges

Jabhat al-Nusra has rebounded, increasingly casting itself as a critical player in battle for Syria’s future More

Lessons Learned From Katrina, 10 Years Later

FEMA chief Craig Fugate says key changes include better preparation, improved coordination among state, federal assistance agencies 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs