Kerry 'not blind' to Rouhani's past
POSTED: Sunday, November 10, 2013 - 4:20pm
UPDATED: Monday, November 11, 2013 - 1:11pm
WASHINGTON (CNN) — America's top diplomat dismissed concerns Sunday that the Obama administration was not being skeptical enough while the U.S. negotiates with Iran over its continued enrichment of uranium, activity widely assumed to be supporting a nuclear weapons program.
Secretary of State John Kerry emphatically told David Gregory on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday that "we are not blind, and I don't think we're stupid" when it comes to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's past claims that he could game the Western world in brokered talks while his nation continued to pursue its nuclear ambitions.
Kerry's remarks came the morning after three days of intensive talks about Iran's nuclear program concluded early Sunday in Geneva, Switzerland, without an agreement. While the key players, including Kerry, insisted the process continues to move in the right direction, the talks raised fears among U.S. allies that Iran was presenting a disingenous front and has no real intention of slowing its march toward weaponizing its nuclear technology.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is not involved in the talks, warned last week that an agreement would be "the deal of a century for Iran" but a "very dangerous and bad deal for peace."
With new talks scheduled for November 20, Kerry's Iranian counterpart signaled that progress had been made and the two sides are getting closer and closer to reaching an accord.
"I think we are all on the same wavelength, and that's important," Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said.
Kerry trumpeted the historic nature of the talks, calling them "serious business."
"This is the first time that the P5 had come together with this kind of a serious set of possible options in front of it with a new Iranian government," Kerry said.
The talks involve the P5+1: the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain -- the countries with permanent seats on the UN Security Council -- plus Germany.
Still, in his interview with Gregory, Kerry maintained a healthy dose of skepticism, falling back on the oft-sounded catchall that the administration "has taken no option off the table."
"This is a new overture, and it has to be put to the test very, very carefully," Kerry said.
"There will not be a relaxation of the pressure," he added. "Nobody has talked about getting rid of the current architecture of sanctions. The pressure will remain."