WASHINGTON – The United States will not tolerate a nuclear Iran, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday, but stressed that it must first exhaust all other options before considering military action.
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"Those who say strike and hit need to check what might happen after we do that," Kerry said at the annual AIPAC conference in Washington D.C. "Only strong diplomacy can justify more forceful options if we will have to use them."
The American approach toward Iran, the U.S. secretary of state said, is not "trust and verify," but "verify and verify," and added that he has 10 words for the audience: "We will not permit Iran to obtain nuclear weapon. Period."
If the nuclear talks between Iran and the world powers will fail, Kerry said, the Obama administration will support imposing further sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
He stressed that "no deal is better than a bad deal."
As for the ongoing peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, Kerry said that both Israelis and the Palestinians are faced with tough choices. He noted that he believes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is "committed" to peace, and that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas "understands the costs of failure."
He said that Israel's unilateral withdrawals from Lebanon and from Gaza prove the need to negotiate peace, and vowed that the U.S. "will not let the West Bank turn into another Gaza."
"Israel's security is our first priority," Kerry said.
The U.S. secretary of state stopped short of saying that, as part of a future peace deal, the Palestinian would have to recognize Israel as nation-state for the Jewish people, as Prime Minister Netanyahu demands, but said that any peace agreement "must also guarantee Israel's nature as a Jewish state."
Kerry also assured crowd at the conference of the pro-Israel lobby that the U.S. will counter any attempts to boycott Israel.