Secretary of State John Kerry got upstaged in his press conference with Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal in Riyadh today, with the world’s longest-serving foreign minister striking a far more forceful tone on Iran and Syria than the new U.S. diplomat.
Al-Faisal on Iran: “Basically, any negotiation should have a time limit. We can’t be like philosophers who keep talking about how many angels a pinhead can hold. We have to talk seriously, we have to talk honestly, and we have to put our commitment clearly on the table. That’s what negotiation is. Negotiation is not to get somebody that negotiates to trick you into a position along with the negotiation because it still is not told. A negotiation must be serious. It must – the negotiation must show intent. A negotiation must show his motive is really settlement. They have not proved to anybody that they are sincere in their negotiation. They have continued to these negotiation to ask for to add to more negotiation in the future… They continue to negotiate and all it comes down to building an atomic weapon continues unabated in an area where it is already dangerous with the availability of atomic weapons. So we have to insist on Iran showing the motivation and a clear understanding that they are there to negotiate for a period of time and then come to terms with the conditions of IAEA and NPT.”
Kerry launched a long-winded monologue detailing his five reasons why others in the region should not develop their own nuclear capabilities for protection from Iran’s program. “Reason number one: Because President Obama has made it clear that Iran will not get a nuclear weapon, and therefore there is no need to develop that security,” he said.
“If one nation does it, another nation does it, another nation does it; you haven’t increased the stability or the peaceful prospects of a nation, and what you’ve done is you’ve diverted your resources from the young people who need jobs, from the investments you need into business, into something that we learned with the Soviet Union and the United States leads to a place where you ultimately want to figure out how do you get rid of them. Remember President Reagan and Secretary Gorbachev meeting to say we’re going to go from 50,000 nuclear warheads and reduce down. Now we have moving towards 1,500, and President Obama wants to move to less. So we do not want a movement – the road to a world with less nuclear weapons does not pass through a nuclear Tehran, and that’s another reason why we don’t want to do it,” Kerry continued.
“And yet another reason why we don’t want to do it is that important people who have been part of global affairs for a long time – Secretary Henry Kissinger, Secretary Bill Perry, Secretary of Defense Jim Schlesinger, every former Secretary of State of the United States with one exception – have all said, people like Secretary George Schultz, Secretary Colin Powel, have all said we should move to a world hopefully, ultimately without nuclear weapons when we learn how to resolve our problems and deal with conflict differently.”
Al-Faisal on Syria: “We do believe that what is happening in Syria is a slaughter, a slaughter of innocent people, and we just can’t bring ourselves to remain quiet in front of this carnage. Morally, we have a duty to protect them. I have never heard or seen in history or in our present time, it is the only time in a great while that a regime would use a strategic missile towards his people and he too is killing innocent children, innocent women and old men. He is hitting his cities diabolically at a time when we are concentrating either to get food or medication, he is choosing a time when there is more citizens in the area of bombardment than any other time. This cannot go on. He has lost all authority in that country. He does not have a role to play anymore. Nobody who has done that to his citizens can claim a right to lead a country.
Kerry on Syria: “I think His Royal Highness has spoken very eloquently about the situation in Syria. And I would simply add there is no guarantee that one weapon or another might not at some point in time fall into the wrong hands. But I will tell you this, that there is a very clear ability now in the Syrian opposition to make certain that what goes to the moderate, legitimate opposition is, in fact, getting to them, and the indication is that they are increasing their pressure as a result of that. Believe me, the bad actors, regrettably, have no shortage of their ability to get weapons from Iran, from Hezbollah, from Russia, unfortunately, and that’s happening. So I think His Royal Highness has made the status of this challenge absolutely crystal clear. Bashar Assad is destroying his country and his people in the process to hold onto power that is not his anymore. The people have made it clear he’s lost his legitimacy.”