Kerry backs Iran talks, says U.S. may use force

The Washington Times Daily - - Front Page - BY DAVID SHERFINSKI GUY TAY­LOR

Sec­re­tary of State John F. Kerry de­fended the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s car­rot-and-stick ap­proach to nu­clear ne­go­ti­a­tions with Iran, say­ing Sun­day that the con­cil­ia­tory strat­egy needs to be given a chance to work — while vow­ing that the U.S. is pre­pared to use force if nec­es­sary to keep the Is­lamic repub­lic from de­vel­op­ing a nu­clear bomb.

“We can’t let mythol­ogy and pol­i­tics start to cloud re­al­ity,” said Mr. Kerry, who dis­missed crit­i­cism that the ad­min­is­tra­tion has done a poor job lever­ag­ing Amer­i­can power in in­ter­na­tional talks — the lat­est round of which closed over the weekend with­out a break­through — over Iran’s dis­puted nu­clear pro­gram.

“The pres­i­dent has been will­ing and made it clear that he is pre­pared to use force with re­spect to Iran’s weapon, and he has de­ployed the forces and the weapons nec­es­sary to achieve that goal

if it has to be achieved,” Mr. Kerry said dur­ing an in­ter­view with NBC.

Con­gres­sional law­mak­ers, as well as U.S. al­lies in­clud­ing France and Is­rael, have ex­pressed con­cerns that the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has veered dan­ger­ously close to mak­ing too many con­ces­sions in its pur­suit of a deal for Iran to re­con­fig­ure its nu­clear pro­gram and open it to close in­ter­na­tional scru­tiny in ex­change for lift­ing U.S.-led sanc­tions.

In or­der to lay the ground­work for such a deal, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has spent the past month mak­ing rare diplo­matic over­tures to­ward Ira­nian Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani, whom many Western an­a­lysts deem a mod­er­ate.

De­spite the oth­er­wise ag­gres­sive tenor of his re­marks, Mr. Kerry de­fended the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s strat­egy of reach­ing out to Iran. “You have to act in some good faith, and an ef­fort to be able to move to­wards the goal you want to achieve — if, as their act of good faith, they freeze their pro­gram and al­low us ab­so­lutely un­prece­dented ac­cess to in­spec­tion and do other things,” he said.

Mr. Rouhani said Sun­day that progress was made dur­ing re­cent talks in Geneva but that Iran will not be pres­sured to fully re­lin­quish its ura­nium en­rich­ment pro­grams in or­der to achieve sanc­tions relief from Wash­ing­ton.

With the next round of ne­go­ti­a­tions to be­gin Nov. 20, Mr. Kerry told re­porters over the weekend that al­though a deal may be in sight, “the win­dow for diplo­macy does not stay open in­def­i­nitely.”

“You need to give diplo­macy the chance to ex­haust all the reme­dies avail­able to it if you are ul­ti­mately go­ing to ex­er­cise your ul­ti­mate op­tion, which is the po­ten­tial use of force,” said the sec­re­tary of state. “The world wants to know that it was a last re­sort, not a first re­sort.”

Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu, one of the lead­ing crit­ics of the talks with Iran, re­mained skep­ti­cal Sun­day of any deal. He crit­i­cized the out­lines of a U.S.-led in­ter­na­tional plan to halt Iran’s ura­nium en­rich­ment and nu­clear weapons pro­gram, say­ing it sounded as if Iran would be trad­ing a nom­i­nal draw­down in en­riched ura­nium in ex­change for sig­nif­i­cant con­ces­sions on sanc­tions.

The deal as de­scribed, he said, means that Iran main­tains its en­rich­ment ca­pa­bil­i­ties to de­velop nu­clear bombs. “All Iran gives is a mi­nor con­ces­sion of tak­ing 20 per­cent en­riched ura­nium and bring­ing it down to a lower en­rich­ment, but that they could cover within a few weeks,” Mr. Ne­tanyahu said on CBS’ “Face the Na­tion.” “This is a huge change from the pres­sure that was ap­plied on Iran through the ef­fec­tive sanc­tions regime, which brought them to the ta­ble in the first place.

“In other words, Iran gives prac­ti­cally noth­ing and it gets a hell of a lot. That’s not a good deal.”

Some mem­bers of Congress were also wary of the pro­posal.

“My con­cern here is that we seem to want the deal al­most more than the Ira­ni­ans,” Sen. Robert Me­nen­dez, New Jersey Demo­crat and chair­man of the Se­nate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee, said on ABC’s “This Week.” “There is no right un­der in­ter­na­tional law for do­mes­tic en­rich­ment. There is a right to a peace­ful civil­ian nu­clear pro­gram.”

Mr. Kerry has asked Congress to de­lay a vote on ad­di­tional sanc­tions un­til talks are com­pleted.

“You can imag­ine that Congress — that put th­ese sanc­tions in place with the ad­min­is­tra­tion kick­ing and scream­ing all the way, push­ing back against th­ese sanc­tions — [is] very con­cerned that we’re go­ing to deal away the lever­age that we have where we fi­nally have Iran will­ing to sit down and talk about th­ese is­sues,” Sen. Bob Corker, Ten­nessee Repub­li­can and rank­ing mem­ber of the For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham, South Carolina Repub­li­can a mem­ber of the Se­nate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee, pre­dicted a bi­par­ti­san push from Congress to in­tro­duce another round of sanc­tions, but said the threat of mil­i­tary force is the only tac­tic will bring the Ira­ni­ans to the ta­ble.

“A sen­si­ble out­come would mean stop en­rich­ing, dis­man­tle the cen­trifuges, stop the plu­to­nium-pro­duc­ing re­ac­tor at Iraq,” Mr. Gra­ham said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “If you want a peace­ful nu­clear power pro­gram, which I’m fine with in Iran, let the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity con­trol the fuel cy­cle where the Ira­nian pro­gram looks like Mex­ico and Canada, not North Korea, and turn over all highly en­riched ura­nium that they have in their pos­ses­sion to the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity.

“A new round of sanc­tions will be com­ing from the Congress,” he said. “The Congress will de­fine the end game be­cause we’re wor­ried about the endgame, not some in­terim deal. You can’t trust the Ira­ni­ans. They’re ly­ing about their nu­clear pro­gram, they’ve been hiding from the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity very im­por­tant as­pects of their nu­clear pro­gram. I want a peace­ful res­o­lu­tion to the Ira­nian nu­clear prob­lem. I don’t want a North Korea in the Mideast, and that’s where we’re headed if we con­tinue to ne­go­ti­ate the way we are.”

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Kerry

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Sec­re­tary of State John F. Kerry is work­ing with United Arab Emi­rates For­eign Min­is­ter Sheik Ab­dul­lah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan on ne­go­ti­a­tions to rein in Iran’s nu­clear pro­gram.

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