US Secretary of State says there is no better alternative to peaceful talks
US SECRETARY of State John Kerry hit back at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday, challenging critics of a nuclear deal being negotiated with Iran to come up with a better alternative.
The Israeli leader had told the US Congress on Tuesday that the emerging pact would leave Tehran just a step away from making atomic arms.
But Mr Kerry noted that Mr Netanyahu had offered no alternative negotiating tactic beyond urging the US to walk away from the table.
He insisted yesterday, at the end of several negotiating rounds with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, that some progress had been made.
If talks are successful, the deal being negotiated will “achieve the goal of proving that Iran’s nuclear programme is and will remain peaceful,” said Mr Kerry.
“No-one has presented a more viable lasting alternative for how you actually prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon,” he declared.
His comments reflected concerns about the potential damage that Mr Netanyahu’s speech could cause by empowering Republican opponents in Congress who are threatening to scuttle any deal they deem too soft.
Senators introduced legislation last week to give Congress a say over any deal and Republicans are trying to get it passed even as the talks continue.
An unnamed US official said that the negotiations are aiming for a much looser construct of a deal than the framework originally planned — “an understanding that’s going to have to be filled out with lots of detail” by their late-March target date.
Once Iran and the six nations negotiating with it reach such a point, US President Barack Obama will determine whether there are grounds to continue talks aimed at a comprehensive deal in June, the official said.
Mr Kerry flew to Saudi Arabia last night to hold separate meetings with the foreign ministers of the members of the Gulf Co-operation Council — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
His officials said that he would reassure them that a deal with Tehran will not allow Iran to get the bomb and won’t mean US complacency on broader security matters.