Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to London, Paris and Vienna, November 17-24. On November 24, Secretary Kerry held a press availability in Vienna, where he provided an update on the Iran nuclear talks. Secretary Kerry said:
"...We have worked long and hard not just over these past days but for months in order to achieve a comprehensive agreement that addresses international concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. This takes time. The stakes are high and the issues are complicated and technical, and each decision affects other decisions. There’s always an interrelationship, and each decision also deeply affects international security and national interests.
"It also takes time to do this because we don’t want just any agreement. We want the right agreement. Time and again, from the day that he took office, President Obama has been crystal clear that we must ensure that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon, period. And this is not specific to one country; it’s the policy of many countries in the world to reduce the numbers of nuclear weapons that exist today and not to allow new ones. And we are engaged in that struggle in many places. And the fact is that even Russia and the United States, who have the largest number, are working hard to reduce that number and to reduce the potential of fissionable nuclear material being available to any additional entity in the world.
"President Obama has been just as clear that the best way to do this is through diplomacy, through a comprehensive and durable agreement that all parties can agree to, that all parties are committed to upholding, and whose implementation is not based on trust but on intensive verification."
Secretary Kerry continued, "...In these last days in Vienna, we have made real and substantial progress, and we have seen new ideas surface. And that is why we are jointly -- the P5+1, six nations and Iran -- extending these talks for seven months with the very specific goal of finishing the political agreement within four months and with the understanding that we will go to work immediately, meet again very shortly. And if we can do it sooner, we want to do it sooner."
The Secretary then underscored that "...even as the negotiations continue towards a comprehensive deal, the world is safer than it was just one year ago. It is safer than we were before we agreed on the Joint Plan of Action, which was the interim agreement. One year ago, Iran’s nuclear program was rushing full speed toward larger stockpiles, greater uranium enrichment capacity, the production of weapons-grade plutonium, and ever shorter breakout time. Today, Iran has halted progress on its nuclear program and it has rolled it back for the first time in a decade."
Secretary Kerry concluded, "...I would say to those who are skeptical, those who wonder whether we should rush ahead down a different course, I believe the United States and our partners have earned the benefit of the doubt at this point. Many were quick to say that the Joint Plan of Action would be violated; it wouldn’t hold up, it would be shredded. Many said that Iran would not hold up its end of the bargain. Many said that the sanctions regime would collapse. But guess what? The interim agreement wasn’t violated. Iran has held up its end of the bargain, and the sanctions regime has remained intact.
"...We have the time in the next weeks and months to try and get this right. And because of that, we should continue to exercise the judgment and the patience to defend our interests, uphold our core principles, maintain our sense of urgency that this issue deserves, and keep open the road to a peaceful resolution. That’s what we decided to do here today. I am convinced it is the right decision, made on the basis of what we have done over the course of these last days, and on the prospects of what we could achieve if we can reach a comprehensive agreement."
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