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Kerry says of Iran nuclear talks: 'We are not blind'

IranJohn KerryNuclear WeaponsPoliticsBarack ObamaIranian Nuclear ProgramU.S. Congress

WASHINGTON -- Secretary of State John F. Kerry on Sunday said he was not being taken in by an Iranian effort to buy time to build a nuclear weapon.

"We are not blind, and I don't think we're stupid," Kerry said in an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press." "I think we have a pretty strong sense of how to measure whether or not we are acting in the interests of our country and of the globe."

Kerry said talks between Iran and six world powers, including the United States, faltered early Sunday in part because negotiators sought guarantees from Iran that it would freeze its nuclear program.

"We are absolutely determined that this would be a good deal, or there'll be no deal," Kerry said, speaking from Geneva, where the talks were held. "That's why we didn't close the deal here in the last couple of days, because we are together, unified, pushing for things that we believe provide the guarantees that Israel and the rest of the world demand here."

During three days of negotiations in Geneva, Iran was offered limited respite from international economic sanctions in exchange for stopping the expansion of its nuclear activity. Western powers have long suspected that the uranium enrichment program that Iran says is for civil purposes is part of a clandestine effort to build nuclear weapons.

The meetings between Iran and the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany ended with no resolution. Negotiators are expected to come back together for a new round of talks on Nov. 20.

The Obama administration has been under pressure from Israeli officials and Republicans in Congress not to ease sanctions before Iran takes concrete steps to dismantle its nuclear program. The Iranian economy has been battered by restrictions on its banking sector and oil exports.

"We know the sanctions have gotten us here, and we're worried we are dealing away our leverage," Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said on "Meet the Press" after Kerry's comments.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on CBS's "Face the Nation" that he was concerned that easing some sanctions in exchange for freezing Iran's program would relieve the pressure on Iran without significantly hobbling its ability to develop nuclear weapons.

The sanctions "got Iran to come to the table," Netanyahu said. Moving forward with easing sanctions, Netanyahu said, is "going to relieve the pressure in Iran, and it’s going to start, I’m afraid, a scramble in the international community of who gets to ease their sanctions with Iran faster. Not a good idea, not a good deal, a very bad deal."

"I think [President Obama] and I share the goal of making sure Iran doesn't have nuclear weapons. I think where we might have a difference of opinion is how to prevent it," Netanyahu said.

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Twitter @ByBrianBennett

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IranJohn KerryNuclear WeaponsPoliticsBarack ObamaIranian Nuclear ProgramU.S. Congress
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