Kerry: Washington will not succumb to pressure to drop Iran diplomacy

Remarks interpreted as being directed at either Netanyahu or Congress; White House holds meeting with AIPAC, other Jewish groups.

John Kerry 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Yuri Gripas)
John Kerry 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Yuri Gripas)
Israeli government officials declined to comment Tuesday on US Secretary of State John Kerry’s remarks that the US would “not succumb” to fear tactics by those opposing the current diplomatic engagement with Iran.
“We are not interpreting those comments,” one official said.
Kerry said US President Barack Obama had charged him with testing “whether or not Iran really desires to pursue only a peaceful [nuclear] program.”
While not saying whom he had in mind, Kerry said that “some have suggested that somehow there’s something wrong with even putting that to the test. I suggest that the idea that the United States of America, as a responsible nation to all of humankind, would not explore that possibility would be the height of irresponsibility and dangerous in itself, and we will not succumb to those fear tactics and forces that suggest otherwise.”
Kerry also said, however, that “no deal is better than a bad deal, because a bad deal could actually wind up creating greater danger.”
While some observers quickly concluded that Kerry’s barbs were aimed at Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, others suggested that his words were actually directed toward the US Senate, which is expected to vote this week on a new round of stiff sanctions against Iran that passed the House by a huge margin in August.
The administration has argued that these sanctions would hurt the current diplomatic efforts with Iran.
Getting pro-Israel organizations, which have supported the sanctions resolution, to back off support for the new measures may be what was behind a meeting the White House initiated Tuesday between top National Security Council staffers, and leaders of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League.
Meanwhile, the White House issued a statement saying that Obama had spoken to Netanyahu on Monday to discuss negotiations over the Iranian nuclear crisis and ongoing talks between the Israelis and Palestinians.
The White House said the two leaders had also discussed other regional issues, including developments in Syria.
The Prime Minister’s Office did not release a readout of the conversation, but officials in Jerusalem advised against reading anything into the silence, saying that the Prime Minister’s Office did not report on every Obama-Netanyahu phone call.
The call came shortly after Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz visited the US to meet with Vice President Joe Biden and to engage in a round of strategic dialogue with officials at the State Department.
Netanyahu also met in Rome last week with Kerry.
In his speech at the United Nations General Assembly in September, Obama said his greatest foreign policy goals were a peaceful resolution to the Iranian nuclear issue and a final-status agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.