Kerry on Iran nuclear talks: 'No deal is better than a bad deal'

Kerry on Iran nuclear talks: 'No deal is better than a bad deal'

Secretary of State John Kerry says the United States is in no rush to reach a deal to halt Iran's nuclear weapons program without being "absolutely certain" it's the right deal.

"President Obama has been crystal clear," Kerry said on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday. "Don't rush. We're not in a rush. We need to get the right deal. No deal is better than a bad deal. And we are certainly adhering to that concept."

Kerry's comments come on the heels of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's assertion that he won't be pushed into a deal.

Nuclear rights "in the international framework, including uranium enrichment, on its soil," Rouhani said, are not negotiable. "For us red lines are not crossable."

On Saturday, Rouhani and other Iran officials lashed out at France, saying the country is acting as "representatives" for Israel.

Sen. John McCain, though, praised France on Twitter.

"I'd say a number of nations, not just the French, but ourselves and others, wanted to make sure that we had the tough language necessary, the clarity in the language necessary to be absolutely certain that we were doing the job and not granting more or doing something sloppily that could wind up a mistake," Kerry said.

"This is serious business," Kerry continued. "And I think every country came there. This is the first time that the P5 had come together with this kind of a serious set of possible options in front of it with a new Iranian government. Remember that this has changed since the election. This is a new overture. And it has to be put to the test very, very carefully."

Earlier, Kerry told journalists "significant progress" had been made.

“We came to Geneva to narrow the differences, and I can tell you without any reservations, we made significant progress," Kerry said. "It takes time to build confidence between countries that have really been at odds with each other for a long time now.""

The American Iranian Council released a statement commending the U.S.-led progress.

"For the first time in years, the two sides are sitting at the table and actively negotiating with one another on the highly-technical details regarding Iran’s nuclear program," the group said. "It is now becoming normal for American and Iranian senior diplomats to directly engage with one another, something that was not yet the case just two months ago during the United Nations General Assembly. This is a meaningful accomplishment in the long process of normalizing U.S.-Iran relations."

Not everyone sounded so optimistic.

On CBS' "Face The Nation," former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said he was "very skeptical" that a deal between the United States and Iran could be reached.

"We've got to be very careful," Panetta said. "And we've got to be very skeptical. Iran is a country that has promoted terrorism. They've had a hidden enrichment facility that we had to find out about. So we've got to be skeptical and make sure, even with some kind of interim agreement, that we know what the next steps are going to be."

Kerry was asked if he was "being skeptical enough" about Rouhani, who has been called a "wolf in sheep's clothing."

"Some of the most serious and capable expert people in our government who have spent a lifetime dealing both with Iran as well as with nuclear weapons and nuclear armament and proliferation are engaged in our negotiation," he said. "We are not blind, and I don't think we're stupid."