John Kerry Plays Down Failed Iranian Nuke Talks

U.S. and Israel have divergent goals in Iranian nuke talks.

Secretary of State John Kerry pauses during a press conference at the end of the Iranian nuclear talks in Geneva, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013.
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As Secretary of State John Kerry seeks to assure the American public – and Congress – negotiations over Iran's nuclear capabilities are going swimmingly, experts point out the divergent goals of the United States and Israel.

[READ: Nuclear Deal With Iran Nears Finish Line]

"There's no question in my mind that we are closer now, as we leave Geneva, than we were when we came, and that with good work and good faith over the course of the next weeks, we can in fact secure our goal," Kerry said Sunday at a press availability.

But pressed on NBC's Meet The Press about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's criticism of the parameters of the U.S. talks with Iran, including the prospect of rolling back sanctions, Kerry became defensive.

"I think the pressure has to be maintained on Iran, even increased on Iran, until it actually stops the nuclear program – that is, dismantles it," Netanyahu had said. "I think that any partial deal could end up in dissolving the sanctions. There are a lot of countries that are waiting for a signal – just waiting for a signal – to get rid of their sanctions regime."

Kerry said Netanyahu should save his critiques for the end of the process.

"We are not blind, and I don't think we're stupid," Kerry said on NBC. "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."

[OPINION: The Future of Israel's Nuclear Deterrence]

But outside analysts also say they are also skeptical of the effectiveness of the Obama administration's approach toward talks to tamp down the Iranian nuclear program with the newly elected and more moderate Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

"There seems to be a tremendous amount of momentum on the part of the United States to get to yes, in a way that walked us back from the advantageous bargaining position that we had," says Ilan Berman, vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council. "Because if the reason the Iranians came to the table is economic pressure, then if we summarily begin to remove economic pressure, in advance of what we want them to do, our leverage is diminished."

Berman says that while direct talks with Iran were a cornerstone of Obama's foreign policy goals while campaigning for president, his cool relationship with Netanyahu is complicating matters.

"The reaction from the Israelis and the French suggests that they understand this was a deal that was driven very much by American policy and the desire to get a deal rather than a fact that this was the best deal we could get," he says. "My sense for a long time is that the Israeli policy is calibrated based upon their perceptions of our seriousness, meaning they are willing to forestall, slow roll military planning if they think we're going to do something that's actually going to have a material effect."

[OPINION: Too Much Breathing Room for Iran]

Tamara Cofman Wittes, director of the Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy, said the United States and Israel have divergent goals.

"U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and President Barack Obama want a deal with Iran if they can get one on terms they think will resolve the [nuclear] threat," she wrote in a blog post for Brookings. "Netanyahu's best outcome, it seems, would be for the talks to fail because of Iran's intransigence. In order to get there, he may have to tolerate more negotiations than he'd like."

Kerry said talks would likely resume in a couple weeks.

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