(CBS News) Secretary of State John Kerry met with Iran's foreign minister, face-to-face yesterday, for half an hour. It's the highest-level government contact between the two countries since 1979.
Kerry talks about Iran's nuclear program in a "60 Minutes" interview. He told "CBS Evening News" anchor Scott Pelley that the Iranians have to convince the United States they are not trying to build nuclear weapons.
Pelley asked, "Give me an example, one concrete step, one thing that they can do to assure the world that they're giving up their ambitions."
Kerry replied, "They could immediately open up the inspection of the Fordo facility -- a secret facility and underground in the mountains, fortified and unquestionably not something that a peaceful program (laugh) would be doing. They could immediately sign the protocols, the additional protocols of the international community regarding inspections. They could offer to cease voluntarily to take enrichment above a certain level, keep it at a very low level, because there's no need to have it at a higher level for a peaceful program --number of things they could do, Scott."
Pelley also asked, "What bold step could the United States take right now to answer this apparent opening by the Iranians?"
Kerry said, "Well, providing that the Iranians take concrete steps, I'm confident they would have an expectation that the United States is going to respond by perhaps adjusting the sanctions regime that we have today, by setting up a process that shows them how they can have this peaceful program without disturbing our efforts to -- to make sure that no country is now going to build nuclear weapons."
Watch a preview of Pelley's "60 Minutes" interview below.
Speaking of that conversation amid the backdrop of Iran apparently seeking a loosening of sanctions, Pelley said on "CBS This Morning," "One of the things that Kerry said was we have hopes, but not necessarily expectations.
"I think they're trying to open this dialogue. The president and Secretary Kerry believe that this is a true opening from Iran, and they're going to exploit it every way that they can. They've decided...that there are going to be more talks on the nuclear issue in Geneva later in October, and I think that's when we're going start to see how serious both sides are."
So when could a deal between Iran and the U.S. come to fruition? Timelines, Pelley noted, differ -- and depend on to whom you're speaking. "Rouhani, the president of Iran, said that he wanted a deal in three to six months. We asked Kerry about that and he said, 'Why not sooner?' But then the Iranian foreign minister last night said, 'Well, maybe we can do something in a year,' so these are all areas of negotiation, but the United States is trying to essentially say to Iran, 'We'll be a partner with you. If you're serious about this, you'll find a willing partner in the United States'."
For more with Pelley, including negotiations on Syria, watch his full "CTM" interview at the top of this article.
You can see Pelley's entire interview with Kerry on Sunday night on the season premiere of "60 Minutes."