November 10th, 2013
11:17 AM ET
11 months ago

Kerry ‘not blind’ to Rouhani's past

Washington (CNN) - America's top diplomat dismissed concerns Sunday that the Obama administration was not being skeptical enough while the U.S. negotiates with Iran over its continued enrichment of uranium, activity widely assumed to be supporting a nuclear weapons program.

Secretary of State John Kerry emphatically told David Gregory on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday that "we are not blind, and I don't think we're stupid" when it comes to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's past claims that he could game the Western world in brokered talks while his nation continued to pursue its nuclear ambitions.


Kerry's remarks came the morning after three days of intensive talks about Iran's nuclear program concluded early Sunday in Geneva, Switzerland, without an agreement. While the key players, including Kerry, insisted the process continues to move in the right direction, the talks raised fears among U.S. allies that Iran was presenting a disingenous front and has no real intention of slowing its march toward weaponizing its nuclear technology.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is not involved in the talks, warned last week that an agreement would be "the deal of a century for Iran" but a "very dangerous and bad deal for peace."

With new talks scheduled for November 20, Kerry's Iranian counterpart signaled that progress had been made and the two sides are getting closer and closer to reaching an accord.

"I think we are all on the same wavelength, and that's important," Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said.
Kerry trumpeted the historic nature of the talks, calling them "serious business.”

"This is the first time that the P5 had come together with this kind of a serious set of possible options in front of it with a new Iranian government," Kerry said.

The talks involve the P5+1: the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain - the countries with permanent seats on the UN Security Council - plus Germany.

Still, in his interview with Gregory, Kerry maintained a healthy dose of skepticism, falling back on the oft-sounded catchall that the administration "has taken no option off the table."

"This is a new overture, and it has to be put to the test very, very carefully," Kerry said.

"There will not be a relaxation of the pressure," he added. "Nobody has talked about getting rid of the current architecture of sanctions. The pressure will remain."


Filed under: Iran • John Kerry • State Department
soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. Tampa Tim

    And the right wingnuts ask, "When can we start a war, when, when, when? Don't make us wait."

    November 10, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  2. tom l

    @Data
    "Indeed. The fact that I'm not a Democratic party hack should give you pause, Tom. Pro tip: time to drop the Benghazi thing if you want to be taken seriously. It's not an issue for your team anymore. Rather like "birth certs", Benghazi sounds like it's coming from Glenn Beckistan or Alex Jonesville – i.e., the magical land of kooky conspiracies. It's time to lay it down and back away, Tom. Stick with the Obama "lies" about people keeping junk health insurance – at least that has a basis in some fact."

    I appreciate your response. Just indulge me for a second. Let's just focus on a very key point as it points to the integrity of the administration and it also was right before the elections and influenced people's decisions. It appears that you acknowledge that President Obama lied with his "if you like your plan" pledge. It seems like you agree that he said that to get reelected and, although you think it "only" affects a small amount of Americans, you realize that this clearly was a disciplined approach to mislead the American public.

    So, my question is, isn't this just another valid point about his willingness to mislead the American public? Just tell me whether you agree that he knew for a fact it wasn't a video but kept insisting to Americans that it was a video that led to an uprising rather than a coordinated attack that his administration failed to see coming. Again, this is something he KNEW to be false yet continued to say. In fact, look at his speech at the UN 2 weeks after the attack and he brings up the video again. This points to his integrity. This demonstrates his lack of ability to tell us the truth. That's what the big deal is. Stuff happens, especially in the middle east and the fog of war so although I think we had no business being in Libya, I'll acknowledge that things can go wrong. Please just tell me whether you think he misled us about the video or not. Thanks and I hope you're having a nice Sunday. :)

    November 10, 2013 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  3. Stuffit

    The problem with this regime is that now more than ever, we know Obama and all of the democrat liberals lie. I also noticed that I was right, after Bernie Madoff apologized he went to prison, Onama who is stealing more money, went to play golf.

    November 10, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  4. Tampa Tim

    Right wingnuts do not negate. According to the brain dead righties, you should bomb first and negotiate later. If it was up to them, we would still be at war with Grenada.

    November 10, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  5. asariah

    Actually if the Syria and other debacles are a hint, and before they put one half of what remains of the World Jewish population under the heel of those vowed to destroy it while they chant "death to America and Israel" within the past week... I think he's not just blind and stupid but deaf as well. Including this administrations deafness to the American people. This Obama regime is supporting the EU not listening at home. Worst diplomat in history. And if you write the Secretary you are referred to "his speeches". Can't believe I ever believed a word that Obama said and as a life long Democrat, I'm ashamed, and disgusted.

    November 10, 2013 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  6. rs

    The real difference between Democrats and Republicans. We're now talking with Iran for the first time in a couple of decades, and while there is no agreement yet, we appear to be on track to peacefully solving a problem that has vexed this nation since GWD belched out "axis of evil".

    Republicans? Graham is calling for more sanctions (which will effectively end negotiations), and the pinheads are calling for war.

    Why talk when you can send poor kids to die?

    November 10, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  7. Charlie

    Kerry Kerry....stop! u are not in control!!

    November 10, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  8. phil_pluto

    US has 0 interest in peace, it is the biggest profiteer of wars.
    And talking about not blind about the past should also apply to Swift boat BS and drug use by Obama and his views and political statements since College.
    But I doubt those rules apply to both sides.

    November 10, 2013 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  9. Antonio

    The France is some kind of "right wingnut" for calling this current negotiation with Iran a "con game"? Come on Obama Kool-aid drinkers, time to wake up. You've been seriously lied to and mislead. Its always better to admit that you have made a serious mistake and change course, than to continue marching for the cliff.

    November 10, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  10. Richard Ledford

    @Tom – You're wrong about both cases:

    1 – The president didn't "lie" about people being able to keep their insurance. While he overstated his case, the truth is that the ACA didn't remove anyone from insurance plans they held prior to the 2010 signing of ACA legislation. Their plans were grandfathered in whether they met the new standards or not. BUT....when insurance companies changed those plans, THEN they had to adhere to ACA policy regulations. Many people are still on their old plans (those that haven't been altered or cancelled by the insurance companies). The argument can be made that Obama should have seen this coming but that's not the same as telling an out and out lie.

    2 – No-one knew in the early days after Benghazi that it didn't grow out of a demonstration against the video. In fact, that WAS the first assessment of US intelligence agencies. And it made perfect sense, seeing that deadly mobs were gathering all over the Middle East and Africa (from Egypt, Yemen and Syria to Tunisia and Sudan) in reaction to the video. Embassies were being attacked, people were being killed. As far as I'm concerned, regardless of who was behind the Benghazi attack, regardless of whether an anti-video demonstration was used as cover for the attackers or not – No-one has determined definitively the motive for the attack. And until we get those responsible, we're NOT going to know.

    In any case, the motive is secondary to the deaths of good men.

    November 10, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  11. Antonio

    Ok. Not blind. Just stupid.

    November 10, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  12. Peter Clarke

    We really need a much more thoughtful Mid east policy. As for the Iranian leadership I would never trust them and stick with the few allies we have there. Give a rogue government nuclear capability and we all can guess whats on their agenda.

    November 10, 2013 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  13. dajowi

    America used atomic weapons to stop a war. Iran will use atomic weapons to start one.

    November 10, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  14. rs1201

    Obama and the democrats are selling Israel out. The American Jewish Community will remember that in Nov 2014 and 2016.

    November 10, 2013 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  15. jorge washinsen

    Was never that much of a John Kerry fan but he is doing a good job in his position now,probably one of the smartest people in this administration.

    November 10, 2013 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  16. Concerned citizen

    Interesting how "US allies are concerned" translates to Israel has a problem with our foreign policy.

    November 10, 2013 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  17. Truth_Seeker

    "Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's past claims that he could game the Western world in brokered talks while his nation continued to pursue its nuclear ambitions."

    A wolf is alway a wolf, no matter how moderately he wants to express it. It's nothing but foolishness to trust this guy.

    November 10, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  18. Holy Batman

    I told you back in 2002 that I had a dream that Iran bombs Israel with its nuclear missile in 2015.

    November 10, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  19. antonio

    I guess France is a "right wingnut"? Look, anyone honestly paying attention knows a con when they see one.

    November 10, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  20. Tallulah

    @tom I
    Well said.

    November 10, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  21. .g

    we should send them our nukes!!!!

    November 10, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  22. JacksonAction

    Leftie wingnuts are soooo dumb. They believe whatever the Iranians tell them.

    November 10, 2013 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  23. hankyknot

    I'm sure Iran is not blind to America's past either, especially the orchestrated overthrow of its democratically elected government in favor or the puppet Shah

    November 10, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  24. Gurgyl

    The problem is here Israel. Do not blindly trust Israel. They are worst than Muslims. They play drama for a long time.

    November 10, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  25. notbuyingit

    netanyahu doesn't want peace.

    November 10, 2013 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
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