U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says the Iranian nuclear issue can be resolved diplomatically, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is calling for the dismantlement of Iran's controversial program.
The two men made their remarks Wednesday in Rome as they began talks expected to also focus on Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations and the crisis in Syria.
Kerry said it is critical that Iran make it clear to the world its nuclear program is peaceful. He said the international community is concerned that Iran not be allowed to develop atomic weapons.
"It is of major concern to all of us that Iran not be able to develop a nuclear weapon. While we welcome, and we do welcome, the change of rhetoric, the change of tone, the diplomatic opening that the Iranians have offered through President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif, we have made clear and we are adamant that words are no substitute for actions. And what we will need, all of us, in order to be satisfied with respect to the United Nations sanctions, to the demands of the IAEA , as well as to our own security requirements, we will need to know that actions are being taken which make it crystal clear, undeniably clear, failsafe to the world, that whatever program pursued is indeed a peaceful program. We have said, President Obama has made it very clear, he will pursue a diplomatic initiative, but with eyes wide open."
Iran says its nuclear ambitions are peaceful. But Israel and the West are concerned that Iran is developing nuclear weapons capability. Iran has been hit with Western sanctions after refusing to halt uranium enrichment.
Mr. Netanyahu said Iran should end all enrichment, get rid of fissile material, and close water plants and underground bunkers that he said are used to build atomic weapons.
"The foremost security problem that we face is, as you said, Iran's quest for nuclear weapons. Preventing that is a goal I share with you and President Obama. And you have said, I think wisely, that Iran must not have a nuclear weapons capability. This means that they shouldn't have centrifuges for enrichment. They shouldn't have a plutonium heavy water plant, which is used only for nuclear weapons. They should get rid of the amassed fissile material, and they shouldn't have underground nuclear facilities, underground for one reason, for military purposes. I think you are right. I think no deal is a better than a bad deal. I think a partial deal that leaves Iran with these capabilities is a bad deal."
Last week, talks in Geneva between Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany ended with upbeat assessments from both sides. More talks among the parties are set for November 7.
Earlier Wednesday, Kerry met in Rome with Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta. The two men discussed Italian media reports that U.S. intelligence officials have intercepted Italian phone calls and other communication lines.