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Kerry: Talks With Iran Won't Imperil Gulf Security

Nov. 11, 2013 - 07:03PM   |  
By AWAD MUSTAFA   |   Comments
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ABU DHABI — The United States’ engagement in talks with Iran has not and will not jeopardize Gulf security, Secretary of State John Kerry assured his Gulf allies on Nov. 11.

Kerry affirmed in a press conference here that the US is committed to ensuring Gulf security.

“We have a strong strategic relationship that was built up over years and a friendship with the United Arab Emirates, and the United States will do nothing in negotiating with Iran that will change that relationship,” he said.

Kerry explained that the latest improved interaction with Iran and the most recent round of negotiations in Geneva came as a result of the economic sanctions put in place.

“We have put these sanctions in place to facilitate negotiations and without the sanctions, we would not have these negotiations now, it would be wrong diplomatically to place sanctions and ignore the opportunity to sit down and talk,” Kerry said. “I made it clear that while we made good and significant progress in Geneva in narrowing down our views with our P5+1 partners and Iran, this is not a race to an agreement. No deal is better than a bad deal, I have said many times.”

UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed said he was satisfied with the US and P5+1 engagement with Iran.

“We have been in discussion and are satisfied on the development of these negotiations, as well as the previous negotiations,” Bin Zayed said. “We are also satisfied with the consultation, size and speed of these discussions, and we are discussing the future of these negotiations and ways to enhance the dialogue between the P5+1 and Iran; we hope that Iran will soon realize that it has no option but to be transparent and clear with its nuclear program.”

Kerry dismissed claims that the negotiations meant that sanctions would be eased.

“Having the negotiations does not mean giving up anything, what it means is to put to the test what is possible and what is needed and whether Iran is ready to do what is necessary to prove that their program is only for peaceful purposes,” he said. “The United States is committed to protecting [US] security and the security of our allies from the unthinkable consequence of what would happen were [Iran] to secure a nuclear weapon.”

In his discussions Nov. 10 with Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Nov. 11 with the UAE foreign minister, Kerry said the question of the failure of the negotiations was raised.

“We are also asking everybody what would happen if we do not reach a diplomatic solution and Iran continues to ramp up its enrichment program,” he said. “This, of course, puts us at risk to lose the coalition with our allies, which is keeping Iran isolated.”

The sanctions, he added, affects Gulf countries, as well as Iran. Kerry has called on Congress to consider the effects on the Gulf allies.

“I know that many nations, especially the United Arab Emirates, have suffered from the Iranian sanctions,” Kerry said. “Just today, I have learned that trade with Iran has dropped from $23 billion to just $4 billion. That’s a huge sacrifice. We have real partners in the UAE, and this affects them. This is something that Congress and others need to take note of as we think about where we are going in the future.”

Kerry said he hoped a deal on Iran’s nuclear program would be completed within months and was confident such an agreement would protect Israel.

He said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rejection of a deal to limit Iran’s nuclear ambitions was premature.

“The time to oppose it is when you see what it is, not to oppose the effort to find out what is possible,” Kerry said.

Netanyahu has repeatedly criticized what he considers readiness by the six powers involved in the talks to be too generous to Iran and has aggressively campaigned against an agreement.

But Kerry reasserted the US commitment to Israel, saying the US would not allow Iran to develop a nuclear bomb and said the US has “been meeting constantly” with the Israelis to understand the progress Iran has made in its nuclear program.

“We are confident that what we are doing can actually protect Israel more effectively and provide greater security,” he said.

Kerry said there is no “endgame” in motion, and the Geneva talks were a first step in longer process of possible give and take.

During his meeting Nov. 10 with Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed, Kerry said an agreement for immediate action on Egypt was reached by the two allies.

“We discussed our beliefs that Egypts transition to a stable inclusive democratic civilian led government,” he said. “We agreed in discussions with His Highness Mohammed Bin Zayed and today in our discussions with the foreign minster to work together, not down the road, not figuratively, not in the future but immediately to create specific guidelines that we can work together along with the Saudi Arabians and others to establish reform economically and politically for the Egypt we want to emerge.”

The UAE and Saudi Arabia have been at odds with the US on their support of the interim regime in Egypt. However, Kerry indicated Nov. 11 that the three countries have found common ground to work together to restore civilian rule.

“We share the view that the interim government needs to succeed, and for it to succeed, the definition of success is the need to implement reforms and protect the universal rights in addition to the transition to an election process that protects the rights of the people,” Kerry said.

Ahead of the Nov. 11 press conference, Kerry met with the Egyptian Ambassador to the UAE, Tamer Mansour, for discussions.

Kerry added that the resolution with his allies on Egypt would be enhanced if “other activities” by regional partners “become unified” alluding to Qatar and their support of the ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi.

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