(WASHINGTON) — Secretary of State John Kerry insisted Monday that it was Iran that was reluctant last weekend to pull the trigger on an agreement to scale back its nuclear program, and not France scuttling the deal, as was reported.
According to the nation’s top envoy, the French, along with the other nations in the so-called P5+1, signed off on the pact, and he added, “There was unity, but Iran couldn’t take it.”
Kerry is still optimistic that a pact can be worked out with Tehran that would involving lift some of the crippling economic sanctions in exchange for Iran giving up its right to enriching uranium, a key step to developing nuclear weapons.
That remains the chief stumbling block and the reason why Iran backed out of a potential deal, although talks are set to resume next week.
Meanwhile, Kerry and the Obama administration also have to deal with Israel and some Arab allies of the U.S. opposing an agreement even before one has been announced. The White House promises it will not allow Iran to hoodwink the U.S. with a deal that compromises the security of Israel and the region.
Kerry is also scheduled to testify before the Senate Banking Committee this week, which wants to impose even tougher economic sanctions on Iran, a move the State Department views as potentially undercutting Tehran’s interest in continuing negotiations.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Paul Cruickshank and Michael Pearson, CNN