US Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday defended moves to strike a nuclear deal with Iran that would “protect” Israel and Western-backed Gulf monarchies.
His comments came as France said world powers were close to an agreement with Iran on its disputed nuclear drive, despite failure to reach a deal at crunch talks in Geneva on the weekend.
“We are confident that what we are doing will protect Israel more effectively,” Kerry told reporters in Abu Dhabi.
But the Israelis have denounced recent efforts at a US-Iranian rapprochement, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denouncing the emerging agreement as “dangerous,” while his defense minister, Moshe Yaalon, called it a “historical mistake.”
Kerry insisted the United States has the interests of Israel at heart and that he shares Netanyahu’s “deep concerns.”
“But I believe the prime minister needs to recognize that no agreement has been reached about the endgame here, that’s the subject of the negotiations,” Kerry said.
He said sanctions were imposed on Iran to force it to negotiate.
“And if we had to turn to a military option, because we are left no other option, we must show the world we’ve exhausted every possible remedy and opportunity.”
Israel, the region’s sole if undeclared nuclear power, views a nuclear Iran as an existential threat and has said it will not be “bound” by any world deal with Tehran, making continuous threats to launch strikes on the Islamic republic.
Meanwhile Monday Iran has agreed to grant UN inspectors “managed access” to a uranium mine and a heavy water plant within three months as part of a deal aimed at improving transparency in its nuclear program.
The agreement was signed by UN nuclear agency chief Yukiya Amano in Tehran.
Under the accord with the IAEA, Iran will also provide information about planned new research reactors and sites for future nuclear power plants, as well as clarify earlier statements about additional uranium enrichment facilities.