Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday he remains hopeful about reaching an agreement with Iran on its nuclear-development program and called on Congress to give him "time to negotiate and present a good deal."
"This is not the moment to second-guess that process, when two years have gone into creating the trust and common understanding that has been building, to bring us to this moment," Kerry said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
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No agreement was reached last week during a meeting in Geneva among Kerry and European allies to discuss easing economic sanctions on Iran. As an agreement appeared near, the talks broke down, in part due to hesitation by France
For its part, Israel couldn't have been more pleased with the outcome. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been talking openly about a possible military strike at taking out Iran's ability to use its nuclear research program to develop weapons.
Kerry said he had been in frequent talks with Netanyahu and appreciated his concerns regarding the negotiating process. He said their disagreement is about tactics, not the goal of ensuring that Iran does not become a nuclear state.
"We are having a very friendly and civil conversation about this. I respect completely his deep concerns, as a prime minister of Israel should have, about the existential nature of this threat to Israel. We understand that," Kerry said.
"There's no distance between us about the danger of the program. And the end game for us is exactly the same. Iran cannot have a peaceful nuclear program," he added.
President Barack Obama's policy is clear as well, Kerry indicated, noting that it has not changed despite the move to ease some sanctions.
"The president's policy is that, under no circumstances, will Iran get a nuclear weapon. That is a centerpiece of Obama foreign policy. He's made that pledge any number of times. And, that is the policy that we are pursuing," Kerry said.
Sanctions are working, Kerry said, noting that "95 percent or more of the current sanctions will remain in place," even under a negotiated deal with Iran. But without an agreement with Iran, Kerry stressed, "the world becomes more dangerous."
If there's no agreement, Kerry insisted, it could lead to a standoff with Iran that would become "far more dangerous for Israel, our ally and friend," as time goes by.
He also noted that failure to pursue an agreement could lead to further instability in the region and could push other countries to "nuclearize."
Failure to reach a peaceful resolution, he said, could lead to "military action in order to secure our goals.
"All we are talking about doing is a tiny portion (of sanctions) . . . that would be released, because you have to do something to make it worthwhile for them to say, 'Yes, we are going to lock our program where it is in today, and actually roll it back,'" Kerry said.
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