Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif Hails Nuclear Talks Victory

Iran Nuclear talksAll United Nations Security Council resolutions related to Iran’s nuclear program will be lifted immediately if a final deal is agreed, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Saturday, stressing the benefits to Iran of this week’s negotiations.

After leading Iranian negotiators to a preliminary deal with world powers in Switzerland, Zarif must now convince a domestic audience that the talks are heading toward a final deal that is in Iran’s interest.

He disputed a “fact sheet” released by the United States shortly after the deal that emphasized Iranian concessions and referred to sanctions being suspended rather than lifted.

“The Americans put what they wanted in the fact sheet… I even protested this issue with (U.S. Secretary of State John) Kerry himself,” he said in a television interview cited by the Fars news agency, adding that the U.N. Security Council would oversee any deal.

“Either side in this agreement can, in the case of the other side violating the agreement, cease its own steps,” Zarif said. He mirrored earlier comments by U.S. President Barack Obama that sanctions could be reapplied if Iran did not stick to its word.

“Whatever work we have on the nuclear program can be restored… Our knowledge is local and no one can take that away from us,” he added.

Iran’s lead negotiator, who was welcomed back to Tehran by cheering crowds on Friday, insisted that Iran had negotiated from a position of strength to secure a good preliminary deal.

He pointed to the changes in the demands of the P5+1 group of countries – the United States, France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China,  as evidence of the success of negotiations that began two years ago.

“Before the Geneva agreement (of November 2013), they wanted to bulldoze Arak, reduce Fordow to dirt….But these positions changed,” he said.

“They realized they can’t shut down Iran’s nuclear program.”

Zarif said Iran would stick to its promises so long as the West also did so, and suggested a deal could open the door to more productive relations with the international community, echoing comments on Friday by President Hassan Rouhani.

“Inside the negotiation room we are honest and outside the negotiation room we are honest,” he said.

“We don’t want anything more than our rights. We’ve never pursued a bomb in the past or now. We’re also not looking for regional hegemony. We want good relations with our neighbors in the region.”

Hardliners in Iran have criticised the preliminary agreement with world powers on their country’s nuclear programme.

The framework deal, the full details of which have still to be agreed, will see Iran curb sensitive nuclear activities in return for relief from sanctions.

Hossein Shariatmadari, an adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Iran had exchanged its “saddled horse” for one with a “broken bridle”.

U.S. negotiators reportedly lowered the bar for their own goals during talks over Iran’s nuclear program in response to resistance from the Tehran team. And, on the heels of a framework deal being announced in Switzerland, France’s top diplomat on Friday admitted his country had initially held out for firmer terms.  The emerging reports indicate the U.S. team, led by Secretary of State John Kerry, gradually backed down over the course of the talks as Iran’s delegation dug in.

 

 

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