TOKYO -- Secretary of State John Kerry, in his first remarks about Iran since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel warned the United States to be wary of talks with the country, said on Thursday that the United States would negotiate with Tehran only if it provided proof that it would not pursue nuclear defense programs.
"Our hope is that there is a way forward," Mr. Kerry said at a news conference here after a meeting with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and the Japanese defense and foreign ministers. He added that he could assure Israel that "nothing we do is going to be based on trust. It's going to be based on steps," in which Iran must prove it is not going to pursue a nuclear program, or it will face a cold shoulder from the United States. "A country that generally wants to have a peaceful program does not have difficulty proving that it's peaceful," he said.
At the General Assembly of the United Nations this week, Mr. Netanyahu called Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani, "a wolf in sheep's clothing, a wolf who thinks he can pull the wool over the eyes of the international community," and he suggested that he would fool the United States about his nuclear ambitions.
Mr. Kerry said "it would be diplomatic malpractice of the worst order" to not attempt a diplomatic solution to the longstanding conflict with Iran before pursuing a military one.
President Obama recently had a 15-minute call with Mr. Rouhani, the first time the presidents of the two countries have spoken since the Islamic revolution in 1979.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.