(CNSNews.com) – Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday that the Obama administration will hold Iran accountable for its sponsorship of terrorism, but at the same time he hopes to use the promotion of trade – like the Boeing deal – to advance “transformation” in the country.
“Doing business is one of the best ways to create interests and vested purpose, if you will, in furthering transformation,” he said at the Aspen Institute’s Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado, adding that the administration was trying to “thread a needle” in its dealings with Iran – “a very difficult needle to thread.”
Kerry was responding to a question about the U.S. continuing to designate Tehran as a state-sponsor of terrorism, even while encouraging a potentially $25 billion sale of Boeing planes to Iran.
The questioner, The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, pointed out that Iran has a history of using civilian aircraft to resupply Hezbollah terrorists as well as the Assad regime.
Kerry reaffirmed the administration’s concern about Hezbollah’s Iran-sponsored terrorist activities and its determination to “call them [the Iranians] on it.”
“But at the same time we’re trying to move the process – thoughtfully – and doing business is one of the best ways to create interests and vested purpose, if you will, in furthering transformation,” he said.
Kerry said issues in diplomacy were not always black and white.
“Now it’s complex, folks,” he said. “Issues in foreign policy don’t always – if they lend themselves to, you know, just right and wrong, black and white, simple line, you draw it, you’re often wrong.”
Kerry said he was in favor of looking for “subtleties” and “understanding all of the rationale for what is happening in a country.”
“The distinction between the planes and the other things is, I think, trying to thread a needle. It’s a very difficult needle to thread, but very important in order to have a transformation that doesn’t send you down the road to a needless confrontation, or to misunderstanding, or to lost opportunity.”
In his reply, Kerry also said it made no sense for the U.S. to negotiate a deal with Iran that allows a lifting of sanctions, only to sit back and watch competitors benefit while America loses out.
“Other countries like France are rushing in to sell Airbus to the cost of Washington state and Boeing and our workers in the United States?” he said. “Doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.”