US Secretary of State John Kerry designated as “provocative” Iran’s opening of
two uranium and milling plants on Tuesday to speed up its nuclear
Kerry was speaking to reporters at Ben-Gurion Airport as he was
boarding a plane to London to participate in the G8 meeting, during the final
moments of a three-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian
He compared the opening of the Saghand 1 and 2 uranium mines
in Iran’s central city of Yazd and the Shahid Rezaeinejad yellow cake factory to
North Korea’s threatening nuclear actions.
It is not “unlike the DPRK,
where Kim Jong-un has decided to reopen his enrichment procedures by rebuilding
a facility that had been part of an agreement to destroy,” Kerry
“In the same way as that is provocative, to open up yellow cake
production and to make any step that increases the rapidity with which you move
towards enriched fissile material raises the potential of questions, if not even
threat. And I think that is not constructive,” he added.
visit, the secretary of state discussed Iran’s nuclear drive and the dangers of
Syria’s continued civil war with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President
Before meeting with Netanyahu in Jerusalem, he told
reporters that the US won’t allow Iran to indefinitely drag out negotiations
over its nuclear program.
“Iran cannot have and will not have a nuclear
weapon,” Kerry stated flatly.
“We are open to negotiation, but it is not
an openended, endless negotiation; it cannot be used as an excuse for other
efforts to try to break out with respect to a nuclear weapon.”
The US has
made it clear to Israel and to the international community that it is serious in
“President [Barack] Obama doesn’t bluff; he’s made that very
clear to me. And we hope the Iranians will come back to the table with a very
serious proposal,” Kerry said.
He spoke as Western diplomats scramble to
keep alive negotiations with Tehran over the possibility that it would
voluntarily halt its nuclear program.
At a meeting in the Kazakh city of
Almaty on Friday and Saturday, the six nations – the United States, Russia,
China, France, Britain and Germany – tried to persuade Iran to give up its most
sensitive uranium-enrichment work to allay concerns that Tehran is seeking the
means to make atom bombs.
Iranian negotiators did not accept the offer –
coupled with a pledge of modest relief from crippling economic sanctions – and
the two sides failed to even agree to meet again.
World powers believe
there are enough grounds to keep talking to Iran about its disputed nuclear
program, a senior Western diplomat said on Monday, even though the latest round
of negotiations made little apparent progress.
“There is enough substance
for these negotiations to continue,” the diplomat, speaking on condition of
anonymity, told reporters. “I would not expect a breakdown.”
policy chief Catherine Ashton, who oversees diplomatic contacts with Iran on
behalf of the six nations, will discuss plans for further engagement with Iran’s
chief negotiator Saeed Jalili in the coming days.
Kerry told reporters at
Ben- Gurion International airport that he thinks “it’s fair to say that we were
hoping that there would be a more fulsome presentation in Almaty that would have
laid out with greater specificity and greater breadth what could have been done
to try to reduce the tensions over Iran’s nuclear program.”
on Monday morning, Netanyahu told Kerry that Iran “cannot be allowed to continue
its nuclear weapons program.
We must not allow it do to so in defiance of
the entire international community.”
“I think everyone understands that
Iran has been running out the clock, has been using the talks to continue to
advance its nuclear program,” the prime minister said. “I think we also
understand what it means for the world to have rogue states with nuclear
Turning to the Syrian civil war, Netanyahu said, “The
fragmentation of that country is creating a situation where one of the most
dangerous stockpiles of weapons in the word is now becoming accessible to
terrorists of every shade and hue.”
At Ben-Gurion Airport, Kerry said he
would meet Syrian opposition members while in London, adding that it is Obama’s
preference to find a diplomatic solution for the battle between rebels and the
supporters of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
His hope, he said, would be
stop the killing of civilians in that conflict by the “legitimate transfer of
governing responsibility to an independent entity.”
The secretary of
state said that both in London and after his return to Washington, he would seek
ways to convince Assad to accept that solution.
Kerry’s trip will be
followed by the arrivial of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel for his visit on April
21-23. This is his first trip to Israel since taking office.
International Relations Minister Yuval Steinitz spoke about the dangers of a
nuclear Iran with Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird.
He thanked Baird
for Canada’s strong position on the need to take all necessary measures to block
Iranian uranium production.
Baird also met with Peres and Netanyahu and
spoke with them as well about Iran and Syria.
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Reuters contributed to this