By Lesley Wroughton
TOKYO Oct 3 U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry
said on Thursday that the United States hopes to engage with the
new Iranian administration, but Tehran must first prove it is
willing to end the stand-off over its nuclear weapons program.
If Iran intends to be peaceful, "I believe there is a way to
get there," Kerry told a news conference in Tokyo after a
meeting of U.S. and Japanese defences and foreign ministers.
Kerry expressed hope that engagement with President Hassan
Rouhani's government can succeed but said nothing would be taken
at face value.
Discussions would be based on a series of steps that
guarantee "we have certainty about what is happening," Kerry
In a charm offensive at U.N. meetings in New York last week,
Iran expressed willingness to resolve the 10-year-old dispute
with the United States over its nuclear program, a move that
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed as a ruse
concocted by a "wolf in sheep's clothing".
Addressing Netanyahu's concerns over talks with Iran, Kerry
said: "We are firmly determined that Israel's security remains
He dismissed suggestions that the United States was being
played by Iran.
"There is nothing here that is going to be taken at
face-value and we've made that clear," Kerry said. "The
president has said, and I have said, that it is not words that
will make a difference, it's actions, and the actions are
clearly going to have to be sufficient."
The United States, Israel and other countries accuse Iran of
using its nuclear program to try to develop the capability to
produce weapons. Iran says the program is for peaceful purposes
"It would be diplomatic malpractice of the worst order" for
the United States not to explore opportunities, said Kerry, who
met his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif at the United
Nations last week, the highest-level official meeting between
the United States and Iran in more than three decades.
"We are going to look very very carefully at this. We hope
it could work because we think the world would be better off,"
Kerry said, adding: "A country that genuinely wants to have a
peaceful program does not have difficulty proving that it is in
fact peaceful, so this ought to be able to be done.
"The test we face over these next weeks and months, not a
long period of time, is to determine whether or not that is in
fact what Iran intends," Kerry added.