US Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday said an agreement with Iran over its controversial nuclear program could be reached within a three-to-six-month time frame, but said the regime in Tehran would have to prove its intentions through actions.
“Iran needs to take rapid steps, clear and convincing steps, to live up to the international community’s requirements regarding nuclear programs, peaceful nuclear programs,” he said. “Words are not going to replace actions. What we need are actions that prove that we and our allies, our friends in the region, can never be threatened by this program.”
Speaking to CBS, Kerry said a deal with Iran to curb its enrichment in exchange for lifting the punishing sanctions that have racked Iran’s economy could be done fairly quickly, even faster than the three to six month time frame mooted by Iranian President Hasan Rouhani.
“It’s possible to have a deal sooner than that depending on how forthcoming and clear Iran is prepared to be,” Kerry told “60 Minutes.”
On Friday, the United States and Iran took a dramatic step toward ending more than three decades of estrangement on Friday when President Barack Obama phoned Rouhani and the two agreed to work to resolve the deep dispute over global suspicions that Tehran is trying to build nuclear weapons.
Describing the call at the White House, Obama said, “While there will surely be important obstacles to moving forward, and success is by no means guaranteed, I believe we can reach a comprehensive solution.” Iran’s nuclear program has been a major concern not only to the United States but to other Middle Eastern nations — especially Israel — and to the world at large.
During Kerry’s interview, which aired early Monday in Israel, the secretary of state said that if it became evident to “the whole world” that Iran’s nuclear program was peaceful, “the relationship with Iran can change dramatically for the better and it can change fast.”
Kerry’s statements came a day before a scheduled meeting in Washington between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Obama, which the White House said would focus on recent developments vis-à-vis Iran and Syria.
Netanyahu landed in New York Sunday morning local time for a four-day visit to the United States, vowing to expose “the truth” in the wake of Iran’s recent overtures to the United States.
Israel is concerned over the thaw in Western-Iranian ties that has been developing at breathtaking pace in the last few days and culminated in Friday’s phone call between the American and Iranian presidents.
“I am going there to represent the interests of the people of Israel, our readiness to defend ourselves and our hope for peace,” Netanyahu told reporters on the plane before taking off for the US. “I will say the truth. In the face of the sweet talk and the smiles one needs to tell the truth. Only the truth, today, is vital to the security of the world, and of course essential to the security of our country.”