Secretary of State John Kerry Interview With Martha Raddatz from Doha Transcript


ByABC News
March 5, 2013, 9:14 AM

March 5, 2013 -- Secretary of State John Kerry Interview with Martha Raddatz from Doha Transcript

RADDATZ: Secretary Kerry, let's start with Iran. You have said they do not have an infinite amount of time for negotiations. The Israelis have said they're moving closer to the red line. Do you agree with the Israelis?

KERRY: Well, I'm not getting into red lines and timing publicly except to reiterate what the president has said again and again. Which is he prefers to have a diplomatic solution. He would like to see the P1+5 process and negotiation process be able to work and avoid any consideration of any kind of military action.

But the president has been absolutely clear that his policy and the policy of the international community, it's not just his, the international community has spoken and that's why the sanctions are in place and it's up to Iran now hopefully to come to the table constructively and work with us to avoid what nobody really wants.

RADDATZ: It seems we've been hopeful year after year after year and yet Iran gets closer and closer to a nuclear weapon.

KERRY: You're absolutely correct. That's why lines have been drawn before and they've been passed. That's why the president has been so definitive this time. This is a very challenging moment with great risks and stakes for everybody because the region will be far less stable and far more threatened if Iran were to have a nuclear weapon.

It will spur a nuclear arms race. It has risks for greater terrorism. It will be destabilizing. There are many reasons why this is risky. And that's why the president has said so clearly his policy is that Iran will not have a nuclear weapon.

Now, if they keep pushing the limits and not coming with a serious set of proposals or prepared to actually resolve this, obviously the risks get higher and confrontation becomes more possible

RADDATZ: Do you think we have this year and no longer?

KERRY: I'm not, again Martha, I'm not going to discuss time frames.

RADDATZ: And yet the time frame, as you said red lines keep passing(CROSSTALK)

KERRY: Well, they have in the past, but not with this president. They have in the past, but right now you have the most significant cooperation in history between Israeli intelligence, American intelligence, other intelligence entities, the international community which is working diligently on a day to day basis to track. And that's one of the reasons why Iran's reluctance to allow the IAEA to get its questions answered and to do its job becomes even more provocative. Now, we just had a meeting in Almaty in Kazakhstan of the P5+1. They scheduled another meeting. There is the time here for the Iranians to make a serious proposal and I will repeat what the president has said and what I have said a number of times, we are prepared through P5+1 and negotiating process to engage in a serious proposal that they would make to prove their program is in fact a peaceful program. We look forward to doing so in the spirit of mutual respect, and a spirit of good faith in order to get this resolved peacefully.

RADDATZ: Syria. What's the policy there. Does not seem to be working either. Assad remains. What would you like see done differently?

KERRY: Well, let's look at where we've been and where we are today. The president began the process by leading the effort to put in place sanctions that make it more difficult for President Assad to fuel his fighting machine. Secondly, the president working with Secretary Clinton, worked to pull together the Syrian opposition. Who are they? How coordinated are they? How united are they? The president has worked on that effort to get to a point now where there is much greater clarity. There's defined leadership, there's a unified voice.

And then the president directed me to come to Rome. It was America that pulled together this meeting which has now ratcheted up the level of support and focus by every country involved. Some are giving lethal aid, some are not.

RADDATZ: Would you rule out giving lethal aid?(CROSS TALK)

KERRY: Let me just finish. The point is that there is a holistic, united effort now that is focused on trying to save lives in Syria, and make it clear to President Assad that we are determined and that he needs to think hard about his calculation in raining scuds down on his population.

RADDATZ: You don't think it's been clear before?

KERRY: I think he has doubted the resolve of the international community. I think he has thought up until now that he can simply have Hezbollah and Iran and some of the weapons coming from Russia, that he could sit there and shoot it out. And if that's his calculation this new increase of effort is to make it clear to him he's wrong. And he needs to come to the table according to what he, even the Russians have signed on to. The Russians have agreed in Geneva that there needs to be a transition government by mutual consent on both sides with full executive power.

That does not include Assad as the executive running the government. And that will lead to the elections and to the opportunity for all the Syrian people to participate. And one thing I want to emphasize – for all of the Alawites who are fearing for their future, for the Christians, or the Druze, or any group there, Sunni, Shiite – they all need to know that the vision of Moaz Khatib and the Syrian opposition, the promise of the Syrian opposition is to have a Syria in which all voices are represented and protected.

RADDATZ: Would you rule out lethal aid in the future?

KERRY: That's not my job to do. That's the president of the United States' decision and I don't think this is a president who takes any option off the table, but for the moment he feels like what we're doing is the right policy.

RADDATZ: Can you just tell me what you want to do differently? What you see the next four years going? What the Kerry approach to foreign policy is?

KERRY: Well first of all, let me emphasize it's not the Kerry approach to foreign policy. It's the Obama's approach. It's President Obama's approach and his administration. I certainly will weigh in with my ideas and views. That's what he asked me to do when taking on this job. And obviously you know me well enough to know I have some views about some things I think we ought to do, but it's up to the president to make those choices.

And I'm not going to get in to, you know, I'm a few weeks in to this job. I'm not going to start playing the legacy or the evaluations game. I'm going to work day to day as hard as I can to protect America's interests, to promote our economic opportunity, to advance our values in the world, and day to day you'll be able to measure what we're doing.

And at the end of four years you guys will write about whatever you want to. But in the end, the American people and President Obama will judge what we do.

RADDATZ: Thank you sir. Appreciate it. Thanks a lot.