Washington, D.C. — Secretary of State John Kerry says the United States is “prepared to respond very, very strongly with additional, serious, sector sanctions” if Russia continues to engage in illegal activities in Ukraine. The secretary made the comment in an exclusive interview today with VOA’s Persian Service at the State Department.
“We’re not going to allow the post-WW.II order,” Mr. Kerry said, “the international structure [to] be destroyed by the unilateral actions of one country. So it’s really up to President Putin and the Russians to decide … how they’re going to proceed here.” It’s in nobody’s interests, he said, “to have Ukraine made more dangerous by Russia moving troops or becoming more provocative.” And it’s also in nobody’s interest, he added, to have this issue grow rather than de-escalate.
Turning to areas where the United States and Russia have been cooperating, such as policy toward Iran, Syria and Afghanistan, Mr. Kerry said they shouldn’t become the victim be the victim of the crisis in Ukraine.
On the subject of U.S. policy toward Iran, Mr. Kerry said the United States has made clear to Tehran the U.S. bottom line: Iran cannot have a nuclear weapon. “If it’s a peaceful program,” he added, “then it ought to be very easy to show everybody it’s a peaceful program; it’s not hard to do that if you’re serious.” The United States, he said, wanted assurances that Iran’s program “is truly peaceful and could not quickly be transformed into a weapons program.”
Mr. Kerry spoke with VOA’s Persian Service on a day where Iranians around the world are celebrating Nowruz — the New Year. In offering his congratulations, Kerry expressed the hope that “maybe it’s a moment where it cannot just be a new year but a moment in history” where “we are constantly hopeful that we can resolve the differences between Iran and the United States and the international community, particularly on the nuclear program but on other issues, too.”
The full interview can be found on the VOA news website and in Farsi on the VOA Persian website.
The interview with Kerry will be broadcast to Iran on direct-to-home satellite TV and on VOA’s Internet platforms, where Voice of America programs are widely seen by Iranian audiences, despite blocking efforts by the Iranian government. A recent survey indicated that nearly one in five adults watches a VOA Persian program weekly, making Voice of America amongst the most popular broadcasters in Iran.