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John Kerry: 'No one should mistake our resolve' on Iran's nuclear program

Sen. John Kerry appeared Thursday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which he still chairs, to discuss the foreign policy he would promote as the next secretary of State.

By Staff writer / January 24, 2013

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Sen. John Kerry (D) of Massachusetts sits before the committee he has served on for 28 years and led for the past four as he seeks confirmation as the next secretary of State, Thursday, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

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Washington

Sen. John Kerry used his confirmation hearing Thursday to paint an expansive picture of the foreign policy he would promote as the next secretary of State – saying economic development, climate change, and human rights must be as much a part of America’s role in the world as “drones and deployment.”

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Appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which he still chairs, Senator Kerry (D) of Massachusetts said, “This really is a time for American leadership.” But, he warned, the US would be unable to continue its “essential” role in the world if it does not first “put its own [fiscal] house in order.”

“We can’t be strong in the world unless we are strong at home,” he said.

Yet even as he emphasized the importance he would place on soft-power issues like development and democracy promotion, Kerry made a point of reiterating President Obama’s commitment to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

“Our policy is not containment. It is prevention,” he said, underscoring an issue that could very well dominate the initial months of his presumed tenure at the State Department. “No one should mistake our resolve” to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, he added.

Kerry, accompanied by his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, and one of his two daughters, bathed in the accolades and good wishes of his committee colleagues from both sides of the aisle. The hearing’s overall tone left little doubt that Kerry can anticipate easy confirmation.

Despite the warm atmosphere, however, several senators made it clear that their respect for Kerry does not extend to Mr. Obama’s foreign policy. Sen. Marco Rubio (R) of Florida said he has “struggled to fully understand what President Obama’s vision for the world is,” while other Republicans focused their criticism on the administration’s handling of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, and the civil war in Syria.

Even the Democratic senator who presided over the hearing, Robert Menendez of New Jersey, took a moment to outline his opposition to some of Obama’s Cuba policy – suggesting how Congress and the White House will remain at odds on certain foreign-policy issues.

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