Kerry: U.S. must pursue Iran talks before considering going to war

WASHINGTON Wed Feb 26, 2014 11:03pm EST

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to the media about the deal that has been reached between six world powers and Iran at the International Conference Centre of Geneva in Geneva November 24, 2013. REUTERS/Carolyn Kaster/Pool

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to the media about the deal that has been reached between six world powers and Iran at the International Conference Centre of Geneva in Geneva November 24, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Carolyn Kaster/Pool

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has an obligation to pursue nuclear negotiations with Iran before it considers going to war with Tehran to force it to give up its nuclear activities, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday.

"We took the initiative and led the effort to try to figure out if before we go to war there actually might be a peaceful solution," Kerry told a group of reporters.

Iran reached a landmark preliminary agreement with six world powers, including the United States, in November to halt its most sensitive nuclear operations, winning some relief from economic sanctions in return.

U.S. President Barack Obama, like his predecessors, has said that all options are on the table with regard to Iran's nuclear program, using diplomatic code for the possibility of military action.

While U.S. officials have long held out that threat, Kerry's comments appeared to indicate the Obama administration would seriously consider a strike on Iran if the diplomatic talks fail.

"I happen to believe as a matter of leadership, and I learnt this pretty hard from Vietnam, before you send young people to war you ought to find out if there is a better alternative," said Kerry, who served in the Vietnam War as a young U.S. naval officer.

"That is an obligation we have as leaders to exhaust all the remedies available to you before you ask people to give up their lives and that is what we are doing" with Iran, he added.

The Obama administration is under pressure from Republican lawmakers threatening to revive a bill that would impose new sanctions on Iran, a move the White House is warning could interfere with delicate nuclear talks to find a lasting agreement. Iran denies allegations by the United States and some of its allies that it is seeking to develop the capacity to build nuclear weapons.

Pressure from lawmakers may increase with signs that easing of sanctions pressure on Tehran has boosted oil export.

Sources who track tanker movements told Reuters that Iran's oil exports rose further in February for a fourth consecutive month. In addition extra cargoes had headed to Syria and South Korea in February, according to a second tracking source.

Kerry said Iran was so far keeping its end of the bargain under the November 24 agreement by, among other things, reducing its stock of 20 percent enriched uranium, not enriching uranium above a purity of 5 percent and not installing more centrifuges.

"Generally speaking, they have done I think everything that they were required to do with respect to the reductions," Kerry told reporters.

"There's no centrifuge challenge. They haven't put any in. They ... have reduced their 5 percent. They have reduced the 20 (percent)," he added. "They are in the middle of doing all the things that they are required to do."

(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton and Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Lisa Shumaker)

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Comments (14)
InvisibleInk wrote:
All well and good.

All sides must resist reacting to the vitriolic rhetoric broadcast in the media that one side spews to its domestic audience as propaganda, and look only at the cold hard facts of agreement compliance or non-compliance.

Feb 26, 2014 11:32pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Fromkin wrote:
Posturing as usual. The American people don’t want a war with Iran. Negotiations are the only viable option.

US lacks the wherewithal to go to war with Iran now. The army is financially and operationally exhausted from ill-conceived wars in Irak and Afghanistan.

As far as republican warmongers, why didn’t they push Reagan’s, Bush’s, Dick Cheney’s administrations go to war with Iran when they were in charge?

Feb 26, 2014 11:39pm EST  --  Report as abuse
WhyMeLord wrote:
@Fromkin,
Because the Bush WMD conspiracy team knew two un-winnable wars would be enough to shove down American throats at one time. After all, blind devotion to the GOP/NRA/TEA party coalition only goes so far.
Kerry is just as bad in his own fumbling way; he’s trying to play the peacemaker while waving his sword in everybody’s face; he’s so lame it’s pathetic to watch. John ‘tin man” Kerry is a total sham.

Feb 26, 2014 11:54pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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