Kerry: US isn’t ‘blind’ or ‘stupid’ on Iran deal

Secretary of state says Netanyahu unaware of the details of the emerging agreement, which he insists is only ‘a first step’

US Secretary of State John Kerry (photo credit: AP/Jason Reed/File)
US Secretary of State John Kerry (photo credit: AP/Jason Reed/File)

Despite its interest in diplomacy and compromise, the US is still skeptical of Iran’s intentions and intends to keep up pressure on Tehran until a deal is reached on the country’s controversial nuclear program, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday.

“We are not blind, and I don’t think we’re stupid. I think we have a pretty strong sense of how to measure whether or not we are acting in the interests of our country and of the globe,” Kerry said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“Nobody has talked about getting rid of the current architecture of sanctions,” he said. “The pressure will remain.”

However, he maintained that at some point, world powers would have to be willing to lift some sanctions as a show of good faith to Iran in order to secure an interim deal to freeze its program and move toward a final deal.

“We voted for these sanctions in order to bring Iran to the negotiating table,” Kerry said. “Now that they’re there, you have to act in some good faith, and an effort to be able to move towards the goal you want to achieve.”

The US secretary of state directly addressed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s bitter criticism of the emerging deal.

“I’m not sure that the prime minister, who I have great respect for, knows exactly what the amount or the terms are going to be because we haven’t arrived at them all yet,” he said. “That’s what we’re negotiating. It is not a partial deal. Let me make that crystal clear as I have to the prime minister directly. It is a first step in an effort that will lock the program in where it is today, in fact set it back, while one negotiates the full deal.”

Iran and world powers were reportedly on the verge of an interim deal over the weekend, but negotiations stalled with France saying the deal still left a door open for Iran to develop nuclear weapons. The sides are to meet again on November 20.

Kerry said that it was not only France, but also the US and others, that “wanted to make sure that we had the tough language necessary, the clarity in the language necessary to be absolutely certain that we were doing the job and not granting more or doing something sloppily that could wind up a mistake.”

Netanyahu has been outspoken in his criticism of the emerging deal. On Friday, he publicly urged Kerry not to sign it, and on Sunday, he welcomed the delay.

“Over the weekend I spoke with President Barack Obama, with Russian President Vladimir Putin, with French President Francois Hollande, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron,” Netanyahu said at a cabinet meeting Sunday morning.

“I told them that, based on information Israel has received, the deal taking shape is bad and dangerous. Not just for us, but for them as well. I suggested they wait and think carefully, and it’s good that they decided to do so. We will do everything in our power to convince these powers and these leaders to avoid a bad deal.”

On Sunday, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman arrived in Israel to update senior government officials on the recent round of Western negotiations with Iran over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. Sherman is the head of the US delegation to the talks in Geneva.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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