Meet the Press   |  November 10, 2013

Are negotiators being skeptical enough?

Secretary of State John Kerry discusses the attitudes of the officials involved in negotiating the Iran nuclear talks.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> as america's chief diplomat, are you being skeptical enough about a man who has been called a wolf in sheep's clothing, who wrote a book in which he talked about how they can continue work on their nuclear program while they gain confidence of the west, basically played games with the west? are you being skeptical enough?

>> david, some of the most serious and capable expert people in our government who spent a lifetime dealing both with iran as well as with nuclear weapons and nuclear armament and proliferation are engaged in our negotiation. we are not blind, and i don't think we're stupid. i think we have a pretty strong sense of how to measure whether or not we are acting in the interests of our country and of the globe, and particularly of our allies, like israel and gulf states and others in the region. we are absolutely determined that this would be a good deal or there will be no deal. now, that's why it's hard. that's why we didn't close the deal here in the last couple of days. because we are together, unified, pushing for things that we believe provide the guarantees that israel and the rest of the world demand here. but one thing is clear, is that, you know, we're not going into a full deal and giving away something. we're talking about stopping their program where it is with enough guarantees to know that it is, in fact, stopped where it is while we then negotiate the full measure of the deal with our allies, with our friends, with all of the interested parties, advising at the table, consulting, and their interests well represented.

>> there is a broader criticism that goes beyond this that no doubt you've confronted in your extensive travels throughout that region. let me sum it up this way. it amounts to this criticism that the president appears reluctant to exercise power on the world stage. it's not just israel , it's egypt, it's saudi arabia . there is a feeling that the u.s. has abandoned critical friends in that region, in part because you're moving toward a deal with iran which could provide them tremendous economic relief when at the same time critics would say their major client, syria, has gotten a pass to murder their own people as long as they don't use chemical weapons . so that all of this is amounting to this reluctance to really exercise u.s. power. that is my description of that criticism, and please respond to it.

>> well, let me respond very directly to it, david. i couldn't disagree with it more. the president of the united states made his decision. he decided to use military force in syria. he also made a decision to respect the requests of many members of congress to come to them. and guess what? when he did, it was the members of congress, as you know better than anybody, who bought very significantly with the exception of the foreign relations committee of the united states senate which took the lead, but the house clearly indicated a very, very strong reluctance to be engaged. the president, before he had to make a decision of whether or not he would use force, anyway, succeeded in getting an arrangement with russia to remove the chemical weapons altogether. that would never have happened, that deal would never have come about if the president had not made his decision to use force. the president used force in libya. the president has been willing and made it clear that he is prepared to use force with respect to iran 's weapon, and he has deployed the forces and the weapons necessary to achieve that goal if it has to be achieved. let me just finish. the president has continued in afghanistan . he has sought a security agreement in afghanistan that is in the throes of being agreed on. it will continue american presence to complete the task in afghanistan . we can't let mythology and politics start to cloud reality here. this president has made it clear. he's also the president who has prosecuted al qaeda with an intensity and terrorists generally with an intensity unprecedented and way beyond the last administration.