Skip to main content

Kerry, Netanyahu discuss Iranian nuclear program in Rome

By Jamie Crawford, CNN National Security Producer
October 23, 2013 -- Updated 1420 GMT (2220 HKT)
US Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Rome, on October 23.
US Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Rome, on October 23.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Kerry: "We will pursue a diplomatic initiative with eyes wide open"
  • "Iran must not have nuclear weapon capability," Netanyahu emphasizes to Kerry
  • Both say that not reaching a deal with Iran would be better than agreeing to a bad deal
  • They are discussing Iran, Syria, and the peace process with the Palestinians

(CNN) -- Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States will not let up its pressure on Iran over its disputed nuclear program despite recent diplomatic overtures between the two countries.

"We will pursue a diplomatic initiative with eyes wide open," Kerry said in Rome during a meeting Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, "aware it will be vital for Iran to live up to those standards other nations that have nuclear programs live up to as they prove those programs are indeed peaceful."

Despite a softening of rhetoric on some fronts by the regime in Tehran, there have been fears by other countries in the region that the United States might be too quick to offer incentives to Iran in the latest round of negotiations between Iran and the group known as the P5+1, which includes the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany.

Netanyahu, who has said Iran's nuclear program poses an existential threat to Israel, was cautious in his assessment of the current state of play.

U.S. negotiator discusses new Iran talks
Former US nuclear offical on Iran talks
A glimmer of hope for new nuclear talks

"Iran must not have nuclear weapon capability," he told Kerry. "I think no deal is better than a bad deal."

For Netanyahu, any deal with Iran must include a prohibition on centrifuges that can be used to enrich uranium to a weapons grade level, as well as the dismantling of a plutonium heavy water plant in Arak that has yet to come on line.

"They should get rid of the amassed fissile material, and they shouldn't have underground nuclear facilities," Netanyahu said in reference to the Fordow facility near the city of Qom, which was discovered in 2009.

Netanyahu is not alone in his plea for the Obama administration to take a slow and cautious approach in the latest round of negotiations.

Members from both parties in Congress have urged the administration not to loosen any of the sanctions that are choking Iran's economy prematurely. Legislation is being drafted that could tighten the sanctions regime until a deal is reached.

"No deal is better than a bad deal," Kerry said echoing Netanyahu as the two began approximately seven hours of talks about Iran, Syria, and the peace process with the Palestinians. "But if this can be solved satisfactorily, diplomatically, it is clearly better for everyone."

The next round of talks with Iran and the P5+1 is scheduled to take place next month in Geneva.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 0023 GMT (0823 HKT)
Wilson Raj Perumal tells CNN how he rigged World Cup games: "I was giving orders to the coach."
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 2014 GMT (0414 HKT)
A 9-year-old girl learning to fire a submachine gun accidentally killed her instructor at a shooting range, according to Arizona authorities.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 1255 GMT (2055 HKT)
ISIS has made surprise gains in Iraq and Syria in recent months, but may begin to suffer setbacks on the battlefield.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 1844 GMT (0244 HKT)
The fear of Russian invasion is receding but peace may still be tricky to find.
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1228 GMT (2028 HKT)
Was a police officer justified in shooting and killing Michael Brown?
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 0815 GMT (1615 HKT)
Don't like the country you live in? Meet the people who created their own "micronations."
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1644 GMT (0044 HKT)
The signs exist that indicate U.S. airstrikes into Syria are on the way.
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1649 GMT (0049 HKT)
The mother of a hostage freed after two years captivity says it's not time to party.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 0946 GMT (1746 HKT)
We asked you what you would like to know about Ebola. Experts answer some of your most common questions and concerns.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 0600 GMT (1400 HKT)
"I just love it when I get milk-to-dark converts," says Kerrin Rousset, before she leads a small cocoa-hungry crowd through Zurich's Old Town.
ADVERTISEMENT