United States Institute of Peace

The Iran Primer

Kerry: Iran Can Prove Peaceful Intentions

            On January 24, Senator John Kerry pledged to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons if confirmed as the new Secretary of State. But if Tehran's program is peaceful, it can allow inspections and prove it, Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He also said that the Obama administration is open to bilateral talks with Iran. The following are excerpts from Kerry's testimony and comments from the confirmation hearing.

Kerry’s Prepared Testimony
            “Given our extraordinary interest in non-proliferation, we must resolve the questions surrounding Iran's nuclear program. The president has made it definitive — we will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. I repeat here today: Our policy is not containment. It is prevention, and the clock is ticking on our efforts to secure responsible compliance.”
            “This Administration, working with Congress and an unprecedented international coalition, has put into place crippling sanctions on Iran. President Obama has stated again and again, he prefers a diplomatic resolution to this challenge, and I will work to give diplomacy every effort to succeed. But no one should mistake our resolve to reduce the nuclear threat.”
 
Comments to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
            “The rial has dropped by about 80 percent. Other nations have been extraordinarily cooperative in reducing their dependence on Iranian oil. There is a clear indicator of the impact these are having, and I think the Congress deserves credit, together with the administration, for having put the toughest sanctions and the biggest coalition together in history…”
            “Well, [in a deal with Iran] we'd seek compliance with the requirements of the IAEA and the requirements of the U.N. resolutions that have been passed with respect to it, and compliance with the NPT (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) itself… It would be totally inappropriate for me here to begin to negotiate with myself and the committee with respect to how they would come into compliance or what would be required...”
            “It is going to be imperative that they [the Iranians] come into full compliance [with the NPT] and there are several ways in which we might be able to get there, and most prominently, obviously, the P5+1. But the president has made it clear that he is prepared to engage, if that's what it takes, in bilateral efforts and — and hopefully there's a negotiation going on right now for the next meeting of the P5+1...”  
            “I'd say this to the Iranians, I hope they listen. They have continually professed the peacefulness of their program. It is not hard to prove a peaceful program. Other nations have done that and do it every day. And it takes intrusive inspections. It takes living up to publicly arrived at standards. Everybody understands what they are...”
            “The allies in the P5+1 have made it clear, and that includes very powerful entities, obviously, people who have been supportive of Iran in other ways at times — China, Russia. They have made it clear that we are all united in this standard and that we are looking for the full compliance with the NPT....”
            “The process itself has to flesh out the details, but the Iranians need to understand that there's no other agenda here. They — if their program is peaceful, they can prove it. And that's what we are seeking.”   
 
Click here for Kerry’s past comments on Iran from 2004-2012.
 
Click here for Kerry’s prepared testimony.

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