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Iran nuclear talks fall short of deal, but Kerry reassures ‘this is not a race’

November 11, 2013 at 12:00 AM EDT

GWEN IFILL: Despite initial signs of hope, an interim deal over Iran’s nuclear program wasn’t reached in Geneva this weekend.

Chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner reports on what happened and on efforts to keep a future agreement alive.

MARGARET WARNER: Secretary of State John Kerry was in the United Arab Emirates today, trying to reassure America’s Arab allies that negotiations with Iran will not put their security at risk.

SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY: Our hope is that in the next months, we can find an agreement that meets everybody’s standard.This is not a race to complete just any agreement. No deal is better than a bad deal, I have said many times, as has President Obama.

MARGARET WARNER: The secretary had diverted from his Middle East tour at the weekend to attend the talks in Geneva with Iran and five other world powers, Britain, Russia, France, China and Germany. They reportedly were seeking a halt to Iran’s nuclear activity for six months, in exchange for an easing of some sanctions.

But, early Sunday morning, the diplomats came up short, amid reports that France had demanded stricter curbs on Iran’s program, particularly its heavy water reactor in Arak, which could produce plutonium once it’s operational.

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Today, though, Kerry insisted it was Iran that said no.

JOHN KERRY: There was unity, but Iran couldn’t take it. At that particular moment, they weren’t able to accept that particular agreement.

MARGARET WARNER: In London, British Foreign Secretary William Hague warned, Iran could face tougher sanctions if no deal is reached. In the meantime, he said:

WILLIAM HAGUE, British Foreign Secretary: Sanctions are costing the Iranian economy at least $4 billion a month. And this cost will be maintained until we reach an agreement. Until such a moment, there is no question of us relaxing the pressure of sanctions in any way.

MARGARET WARNER: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeatedly condemned the emerging deal, as he did yesterday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, Israel: Iran gives practically nothing, and it gets a hell of a lot. That’s not a good deal.

MARGARET WARNER: Iran did reach a separate agreement today with the International Atomic Energy Agency for greater access to some nuclear sites. Meanwhile, Tehran’s talks with the world powers are set to resume on Nov. 20.