In an apparent response to scathing public criticism from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the deal that was almost secured in negotiations with Iran in Geneva Saturday, US Secretary of State John Kerry cautioned against “jumping to conclusions” about the terms of the accord and promised that any deal ultimately signed with Tehran would enable the US to “look our allies in the face and say, ‘This gets the job done.’”
Kerry, speaking at a press conference in Geneva after three days of talks ended with a promise to resume on November 20, said he knew the negotiations were arousing “very strong feelings among our allies” about “the consequences” of the choices being made, ” and that the US had “enormous respect for those concerns.”
But the US, he stressed, remained committed to preventing Iran from attaining nuclear weapons and to “protecting our allies,” particularly in the Middle East. People should not be jumping to conclusions about the emerging accord, and should not respond on the basis of “rumors or other parcels of information that somebody pretends to know.”
Kerry’s remarks seemed directed at least in part at Netanyahu, who on Friday branded the emerging deal “very, very bad,” directly urged Kerry not to sign it, and said Israel would not be bound by its terms.
The secretary said the talks had brought the P5+1 countries “further down the road” to an interim solution to the Iran nuclear crisis. “People need to stop and think about what happens each day now that you don’t have an agreement,” he said. Until a deal is done, he continued, Iran “will continue to enrich” uranium and install new centrifuges. What the diplomats are trying to do, he said, “is freeze that program in place” with an interim deal, and then work toward a final agreement.
It was vital, Kerry said, “to exhaust” all the diplomatic remedies available, in the effort to avoid exercising the “last resort” of military intervention. He was convinced that others would be “convinced of the reasonableness of the approach,” he said.
President Barack Obama had vowed continually not to rush into a deal, Kerry noted. The three days of talks in Geneva had “narrowed the differences” and clarified the ways forward to “rein in the program and guarantee its peaceful nature.”
The talks had been held in “good faith” and he hoped future rounds would yield an agreement. “It takes time to build confidence between countries that have really been at odds for a long time,” he said, noting the US-Iran rupture dating back to 1979.