John Kerry: US not 'blind' or 'stupid' in Iran nuclear talks

US secretary of state tells NBC that America remains skeptical of Iran's willingness to dismantle its nuke program, will keep sanctions in place.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (photo credit: Reuters)
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry
(photo credit: Reuters)
WASHINGTON – The failure of world powers to achieve an interim agreement halting Iran’s nuclear program this week was over technicalities regarding the implementation of its provisions, and not over its contents, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Saturday.
“It’s a question of working out the modalities by which it will be done, by which it will be verified,” Kerry told David Gregory for the talk show Meet the Press. “There was unity there with respect to getting it right.”
In Geneva this week, Germany and the permanent five members of the United Nations Security Council – the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia and China – engaged Iran in a second round of negotiations in an attempt to rid the Islamic Republic of its controversial nuclear program, now in its eighth year.
Details of the deal have not been publicly acknowledged by any government actively involved in the negotiations.
But leaks from Geneva suggest Iran would be required to halt most enrichment of uranium, and convert some existing enriched stockpiles to gas, in exchange for “modest, reversible” sanctions relief.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who wants a full dismantling of the Iranian program, has come out forcefully against the deal.
“I’m not sure that the prime minister... knows exactly what the amount or the terms are going to be, because we haven’t arrived at them,” Kerry said to Gregory. “It seems to me that Israel is far safer if you make certain that Iran cannot continue its program.”
Financial pressure will be maintained on Iran, Kerry said, and the interim agreement being forged in Geneva – to be revisited in two weeks’ time, during a third summit – is a “first step” and not a partial deal.
Asked by Gregory whether he agreed with Netanyahu’s characterization of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing,” Kerry said that the US had teams of experts working to dissect Iran’s work and intentions.
“We are not blind,” he said, “and I don’t think we’re stupid.”