In his opening statement before his own Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Secretary of State nominee John Kerry worked hard to allay concerns that he would be too lenient or trusting in relations with rogue states, telling the panel he was resolved to reduce the nuclear threat at any cost:
The world is well aware we face a number of immediate, dangerous challenges, particularly in the Middle East and South and Central Asia. Given our extraordinary interest in non-proliferation, we must resolve the questions surrounding Iran’s nuclear program. The President has made it definitive–we will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. I repeat here today: our policy is not containment. It is prevention and the clock is ticking on our efforts to secure responsible compliance.
This Administration, working with Congress and an unprecedented international coalition, has put into place crippling sanctions on Iran. President Obama has stated again and again, he prefers a diplomatic resolution to this challenge, and I will work to give diplomacy every effort to succeed. But no one should mistake our resolve to reduce the nuclear threat.
He did not, however, mention a nuclear threat in North Korea or make any mention of Syria, in spite of a relationship with dictator Bashar Al-Assad that critics have called too close and friendly.
Kerry’s opening statement also included a mention of the “life-threatening” issue of climate change, a favorite cause of Kerry that will also likely be cast into the spotlight over the course of his confirmation hearings:
(American foreign policy) is defined by leadership on life threatening issues like
climate change, or fighting to lift up millions of lives by promoting
freedom and democracy from Africa to the Americas or speaking out for
the prisoners of gulags in North Korea or millions of refugees and
displaced persons and victims of human trafficking. It is defined by
keeping faith with all that our troops have sacrificed to secure for
Afghanistan. America lives up to her values when we give voice to the
Kerry also hinted at his preferred force policy of negotiation and peaceful engagement rather than shows of force, moving forward as the war in Afghanistan draws down.
“President Obama and every one of us here knows that American foreign policy is not defined by drones and deployments alone,” he said. “We cannot allow the extraordinary good we do to save and change lives to be eclipsed entirely by the role we have had to play since Sept. 11, a role that was thrust upon us.”
Read the rest of the statement here.