Kerry warns Iran: Be ready to talk seriously, or else

‘We are prepared to let diplomacy be the victor’ in dispute over nuclear program, says US secretary, but if not ‘we’ll do what’s necessary’

John Kerry will head back to Capitol Hill to brief the full Senate on Thursday (photo credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite/File)
John Kerry will head back to Capitol Hill to brief the full Senate on Thursday (photo credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite/File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State John Kerry warned Iran on Friday to come to upcoming nuclear talks prepared to talk seriously with world powers about addressing concerns over its nuclear program.

Speaking to reporters at the State Department, Kerry said in his first public comments on the matter since taking office last week that Iran knows full well what it needs to do to prove its nuclear intentions are peaceful as it claims.

If it does, Kerry said the international community is prepared to respond positively. If not, he said Iran will only face increased international isolation. He reminded the Iranian leadership that President Barack Obama has taken no options off the table, including military force, to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

“We are prepared to let diplomacy be the victor in this confrontation over their nuclear program,” Kerry said after meeting with Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird. “The president has made it clear that he is prepared to talk about a peaceful nuclear program.”

Kerry also said: “Iran has a choice: they have to prove to the world that it is peaceful and we are prepared to sit responsibly and negotiate how they can do that and how we can all be satisfied.”

His comments came ahead of a meeting between Iran and senior officials from the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany. That meeting is set for Feb. 26 in Kazakhstan.

Kerry also said that Iran’s recent revelation that it would vastly increase its pace of uranium enrichment, which can make both reactor fuel and the fissile core of warheads, is “concerning” and “disturbing.”

“The president has made it clear that his preference is to have a diplomatic solution, but if he cannot get there, he is prepared to do whatever is necessary to make certain that Iran does not have a nuclear weapon,” he said.

Kerry also addressed the situation in Syria, saying that the US is evaluating new options to halt the raging civil war. Kerry said the Obama administration is “deeply distressed” by Syria’s violence and is weighing diplomatic and other steps to stem the killing.

Kerry would not specifically address a question about the administration’s previous debates over providing military aid.

Top Pentagon leaders on Thursday said for the first time that they backed the idea but that President Barack Obama opposed such action.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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