Uranium-processing site in Isfahan 370.
(photo credit: Reuters)
US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday he did not have high expectations that an upcoming presidential election in Iran would change the calculus over Tehran's nuclear program, repeating it was unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon.
At a joint news conference with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, Kerry said Iran needs to understand that international patience was waning over the nuclear program that Tehran says is meant for peaceful purposes.
"Every month that goes by gets more dangerous," Kerry said.
"The Iranian nuclear question remains critical to all of us," Kerry said. "We will continue to consult and to work very closely with Germany and all of our P5+1 partners on the next steps that are based on our dual-track approach."
For his part, Westerwelle said that it was "crystal clear" that nuclear arms in the hands of the Iranian regime "is not an option for the federal government of Germany, and I think for our partners worldwide."
"We want to focus our efforts on the political and diplomatic solution. That’s absolutely obvious. But just talks for the sake of talks, that’s not what we are seeking for. We want to have tangible results," he stressed
Earlier in the week, Iran's presidential candidates clashed over their approaches to the nuclear issue. A former Iranian nuclear negotiator who is running for president used his first television appearance of the campaign to reject accusations he had been too soft in negotiations with world powers.
The most prominent moderate candidate in an election dominated by hardliners, cleric Hassan Rohani, nuclear negotiator from 2003 to 2005, oversaw an agreement to suspend Iran's fledgling uranium enrichment-related activities.
Hardliners see the nuclear program as a sign of national pride and any concession to outside pressure an affront to Iran's sovereign rights. The current nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, is running for president on his record of giving no ground in talks.
Western powers are watching the June 14 election to see whether President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's successor will set a new tone in talks - several rounds of which in the last year have failed to defuse tensions over the nuclear program which Israel has said it could use military force to stop.
In a spirited exchange on state television on Monday evening, Rohani said allegations he had halted nuclear development were "a lie" and suggested his interviewer was "illiterate".
"It's good if you study history," a smiling Rohani, dressed in the traditional clerical garb, told the besuited interviewer. "We suspended it? We mastered the (nuclear) technology!" The 64-year-old argued the Islamic Republic had expanded uranium enrichment during his tenure while demonstrating the program's peaceful nature and preventing a US military attack.
"We didn't allow Iran to be attacked," he said, referring to the US military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.
"They (the US) imagined tomorrow or the day after, it would be Iran's turn."