‘Malpractice’ not to test new Iranian approach over nuclear programme

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It would be “diplomatic malpractice of the worst order” not to test Iran’s willingness to comply with international demands over its nuclear programme, US Secretary of State John Kerry said yesterday.

In his first public comments since Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned the United States and the West not to trust Iran in an impassioned address to the United Nations, Mr Kerry said they would not be played for “suckers” with a charm offensive from new Iranian president Hassan Rouhani.

Mr Kerry said the US would not take any Iranian offer at face value and said Iran would have to prove it is not trying to develop a nuclear weapon.

“We have an obligation,” Mr Kerry said in Tokyo after he and US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel met the foreign and defence ministers of Japan.

“It would be diplomatic malpractice of the worst order not to examine every possibility of whether or not you can achieve that before you ask people to take military action and do what you have to do to prevent it.

“You have to exhaust the remedies before you ratchet up to a next tier of remedies that may have more dramatic consequences.”

Mr Kerry stressed that Mr Rouhani’s apparent overtures would be looked at with an extremely critical eye.

“There is nothing here that is going to be taken at face value and we have made that clear,” he said.

“It is not words that will make a difference, it’s actions, and the actions clearly are going to have to be sufficient that the world will understand that not only will they not be on the road to get a weapon but there is no ability to suddenly break out and achieve that.

“I assure prime minister Netanyahu and the people of Israel that nothing that we do is going to be based on trust. It’s going to be based on a series of steps that guarantee to all of us that we have certainty about what is happening.”

Mr Kerry’s remarks came in a response to a question about Mr Netanyahu’s warning on Tuesday, a day after the Israeli leader met President Barack Obama in the White House.