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Kerry Warns Iran Has ‘Finite Amount of Time’ for Nuclear Talks

US Secy of State John Kerry warned Monday talks with Iran over its nuclear development activities “will not go on for the sake of talks.”
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 3/4/2013, 6:45 PM

US Secy of State John Kerry in Riyadh
US Secy of State John Kerry in Riyadh
Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned Monday that talks with Iran over its nuclear development activities “will not go on for the sake of talks.”

Speaking in Riyadh on his first tour of the Middle East, Kerry told reporters that his discussions with foreign ministers from Gulf nations had covered the ongoing talks between world powers and Iran over its nuclear development program. Iran has just announced it is installing 3,000 advanced centrifuges to enrich uranium at its Natanz nuclear plant -- a move the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) warned two weeks ago was about to take place.

The window of opportunity for a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear problem “cannot by definition remain open indefinitely,” Kerry said. “There is time to resolve this issue – providing the Iranians are prepared to engage seriously” on ways to defuse the crisis.

But, he added, negotiations “will not go on for the sake of talks,” pointing out, “Talks cannot become an instrument for delay that in the end will make the situation more dangerous. There is a finite amount of time.

Last week, representatives of world powers concluded another round of talks with the Islamic Republic over the issue, this time in Kazakhstan. The group presented a proposal to ease tightened sanctions against Tehran in exchange for Iran halting its uranium enrichment activities.

Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned on Sunday at the weekly government cabinet meeting that as international talks over Iran’s nuclear development activities dragged on in Kazakhstan, “the only thing that was achieved was to stall for time during which Iran intends to continue enriching nuclear material for an atomic bomb, and it is indeed continuing toward this goal.”

“Saudi Arabia supports the efforts to resolve the crisis diplomatically,” Saudi Foreign Minister Saud bin Faisal bin Abdul Aziz told reporters. “We hope that the negotiations will result in putting an end to this problem, rather than containing it, taking into account that the clock is ticking and negotiations cannot go on forever.”

Kerry also held talks with Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz, as well as the foreign ministers of Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman, but was not scheduled to meet with King Abdullah, the AFP news agency reported.