Denuclearization efforts are not restricted only to P5+1-plus-Iran negotiation: John Kerry with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius

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US Secretary of State John Kerry addresses journalists during a joint press conference with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Paris, March 7, 2015
US Secretary of State John Kerry addresses journalists during a joint press conference with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Paris, March 7, 2015

Paris: US Secretary of State said here Saturday we are deeply involved in trying to denuclearize North Korea, and there are any number of other players in the world who might at some point think that they would be advantaged by proceeding down this road (negotiations for Iran Nuclear Deal) – the stakes are higher than just this P5+1-plus-Iran negotiation.

Kerry was addressing the media at Qai d’Orsay, the building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Paris on Saturday. Flanked by the French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, the US Secretary began by expressing deepest condolences, also on behalf of President Obama, to the families of the French, Belgian, and Malian victims of the jehadist attack at a bar popular with expatriates at Bamako in Mali earlier in the morning. Expressing revulsion, he said this is an act of cowardice. And these horrific and cowardly attacks, these acts of terrorism, which Paris experienced too much of most recently, but an act of opening fire in a restaurant filled with innocent civilians – in the end, that only strengthens our resolve to fight terrorism in all of its forms wherever it exists.

This cowardly act (Mali restaurant shooting) strengthens our partnership and it strengthens our commitment to see this moment, this generational challenge, through. And we will.- John Kerry

Kerry informed media-persons that he talked with his French counterpart about Daesh, the challenge in Syria, in Iraq, and the need to continue, and ways in which France and the US can strengthen what was being done. There was discussion about the need for transition in Syria and the increased efforts with respect to the Assad regime and the need to leverage him to a negotiation. The two leaders talked about Libya – the threat of ISIL/Daesh and other extremist groups taking advantage of the lack of adequate governance and the adequate resolution politically of the challenges there.

Kerry told journalists that his primary focus during the week that was has been on the Iran nuclear talks. And after a couple of days of very intense negotiations with the Iranians in Switzerland, he traveled to Saudi Arabia, where he updated the US allies and partners in Riyadh and throughout the Gulf. In Paris saturday, he was discussing “partnership” with his French counterpart. This – the road to Iran Nuclear deal – “is not a bilateral negotiation; this is a multilateral P5+1 negotiation. And all of our partners are consistently exchanging and sharing information, sharing ideas, working together, meeting, and helping to try to drive this to the good conclusion that we want, Kerry said.

Spelling out the roadmap to contain Iran, Kerry said, we want an agreement that’s solid. We want an agreement that will guarantee that we are holding any kind of program that continues in Iran accountable to the highest standards so that we know that it is, in fact, a peaceful program. All of us in the P5+1 are deeply committed to ensuring that Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapon. And we continue to believe that a comprehensive deal that includes intrusive access and verification measures, and blocks each of the pathways to securing fissile material for a bomb and then to try and make a bomb itself, that the best way to achieve the goal is to shut off those pathways.

On Iran’s nuclear chief, Ali Akbar Salehi’s statement earlier during the day that Iran has put forward technical proposals to the U.S. to overcome their concerns and his specific assertion that the impasse over technical issues is over, the french Foreign Minister said: “Under no circumstances Iran will never seek nor possess any nuclear weapon.” Kerry responded to this by saying he agrees completely with Fabius particularly with respect to the picture of what happens if you don’t have a good, solid agreement. All of us have an interest in making certain that the countries in the region feel sufficiently convinced that this agreement is meaningful – that it will hold, that it’s real, and that they’re secure – so that they don’t in fact make matters worse by all engaging in the development of a program because they feel threatened.

Adding further to what Fabius said, Kerry stated: our obligation is not to each other, not just to those of us in the talks. It’s to a much broader community – in fact, to the world. Because we are also deeply involved in trying to denuclearize North Korea, and there are any number of other players in the world who might at some point think that they would be advantaged by proceeding down this road. So this – the stakes here are higher than just this P5+1-plus-Iran negotiation.

To a pointed question on his statement Friday that Iran is still supporting terrorism, and General Dempsey informing the US senators that Iran’s role in Iraq might be positive. Does that mean that according to the United States, Iran was fighting terrorism in Iraq and supporting it in Syria and in Yemen, Kerry responded by saying the advance on Tikrit is an Iraqi-designed and an Iraqi-controlled advance. And Prime Minister Abadi himself went out to the front several days beforehand. He briefed the US and others on what their plans were. There are Sunni tribes involved in this effort. There are Iraqi armed forces involved. There are some militias involved, and some of those militias are receiving direction from General Soleimani and from Iran, he said adding that’s a fact.
He also went on to observe what General Dempsey said is a matter of pure common sense and fact. If Iran kills a bunch of ISIL/Daesh on the ground, and it serves the interests of Iraq and the rest of us, that might wind up helping, but it doesn’t mean that we accept in any way their behavior with respect to other things they’re doing in Yemen, in Beirut, in Damascus, elsewhere.

Kerry also said, they (Iran) have been engaged in these other activities. That’s why they are a designated country. And the truth is that’s not on the table in this discussion. Our goal is ultimately to change the behavior and ultimately try to affect these other places. But for the moment, the key is to prevent them from having a nuclear weapon. Because if this country that is engaged in these other activities has a nuclear weapon, you got a whole different ballgame.
US Secretary of State John Kerry addresses journalists during a joint press conference with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Paris, March 7, 2015