Secretary of State John Kerry told the BBC that he and the Iranians were “very, very close, actually, extremely close” to reaching a deal on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program over the weekend.
“I think we were separated by four or five different formulations of a particular concept. But none so terribly that I don’t think it’s possible to reach be able to reach agreement,” Kerry said.
“The Iranians had objections to certain parts of the language themselves which we had to work out and we had to negotiate. So there was still open negotiating beyond whatever the British or the French or the Germans or anybody else brought to the table. Obviously, the French have been more vocal about one thing or another, but the fact is that we had a unity on Saturday in a proposal put in front of the Iranians. But because of some the changes they felt they had to go back and change it,” he continued.
“So we achieved unity. And we achieved, I think, a reasonable proposal that protected the interests that we’re seeking to protect, while recognizing this was a first step, not an agreement. The hardest part of this comes after the first step. But I was pleased with the amount of work done and we will just continue to work. That’s the nature of diplomacy.”
Kerry said he felt the Iranians are “anxious to reach an agreement in the sense that their sanctions are very, very difficult and it’s creating difficulties at home.”
“What’s important is that we had unity about a way to proceed forward. We presented it. They need to contemplate it, look at it, evaluate it. Our teams need to continue to work, and hopefully the world will be served. I mean, this is not something we’re doing because it’s nice. This is something we’re doing because the world wants to know that we’re not going to have another country with nuclear weapons, that they’re not going to threaten the region,” he said.
The secretary of State boasted that he had just talked with Iran “more in 30 hours than we have in those prior 30 years.”
“We’re not having a geopolitical conversation right now. Obviously, there are a lot of issues. We view Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. It is a client, if you will, of Iran. It’s a real problem. Hezbollah is a serious problem. But those are issues wrapped up in other geopolitical considerations of the region. Obviously, we’re dealing with the Middle East peace process, other things. Right now, the focus with Iran is Iran’s nuclear plan,” Kerry continued, adding that allies in the region “don’t have to fear that our discussion with Iran is somehow going to upset the strength of those relationships.”
“I think we spent 30 seconds on Syria, both agreeing it’s a very serious issue, it needs to be resolved, and that’s it. No geopolitical discussions have taken place because we are focused really intensely and exclusively on the nuclear program… I think everybody would love to see Iran rejoin the community of nations and be a constructive contributor to things, but not at the expense of other relationships and of other people’s interests and values.”