Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister and chief negotiator on his
country’s nuclear program, accused Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of trying
to deceive the international community in order to avert a deal that would end
the nuclear standoff.
Zarif told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria in an interview
that aired on Sunday that it was “audacious” of Israel – a country with “a
clandestine nuclear weapons program” and only one of three states that had
refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty – to accuse Iran of
weaponizing its program.
“We won’t have a bomb, because we don’t see it
in our interest,” Zarif said. “He’s [Netanyahu’s] been lying. He continues to
lie. He’s in fact investing in continuing fear.”
Zarif outlined what
Iran’s Foreign Ministry may consider the parameters of a deal.
“Why is it
that he’s worried about a deal where the international community can monitor
Iran’s nuclear program and make sure it is never weaponized?” he
“The Zionist regime and its supporters had spent hundreds of
millions of dollars to portray the intended image from the Islamic Republic of
Iran, but all these efforts unraveled in this trip,” Zarif said in an interview
on Iranian TV on Saturday, the Iranian Tasnim News Agency reported.
said that Netanyahu tried to distract attention by using propaganda about Iran
instead of focusing on his country’s persecution of the
Netanyahu “failed this year, and everybody said that
Netanyahu was in a muddle about his own problems,” he said.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marqiyeh Afkham said Moscow was committed
to delivering the S-300 surface-to-air missile system to her country.
line with the friendly ties between Iran and Russia, negotiations between
officials and experts in charge are continuing, so that the international
obligations of the Russian side will be fulfilled and a result will be reached
on the S-300 system,” she said on Saturday, according to the Iranian Fars News
Israel sees the acquisition of the Russian anti-aircraft S-300
rockets by Iran, Syria or Hezbollah as a redline.
negotiating with Tehran over its nuclear program must come up with new proposals
before talks in Geneva on October 15-16, the Islamic Republic’s foreign minister
The United States wants Iran to respond to proposals by world
powers in February as a starting point for talks. If the parties cannot agree on
how to start the negotiations, it casts doubt on whether a resolution can be
agreed on within the six months in which Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says
he wants a deal.
Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States –
the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – plus
Germany, the so called P5+1, said in February
they want Iran to stop enrichment
of uranium to 20 percent, ship out some stockpiles and shutter a facility where
such enrichment is done.
In return, they offered relaxation of
international sanctions on petrochemicals and trade in gold and other precious
US officials said last week that Secretary of State John Kerry
had secured an agreement from his Chinese counterpart calling for Iran to
respond positively to existing nuclear proposals by the six powers.
previous P5+1 plan given to Iran belongs to history and they must enter talks
with a new point of view,” Zarif said in a TV interview on Saturday
players must put away this illusion that they can impose anything on the Iranian
“There is a new tone [in Iran]; we want it to be sincere, but we
need to see deeds,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told Europe 1 radio
He said there was limited time to resolve the dispute while
maintaining the Western goal of ensuring Iran is not able to make nuclear arms.
That was because the heavy water reactor in Arak, in western Iran, would be able
to produce plutonium.
“If it were completed, we wouldn’t be able to
destroy it, because if you bomb plutonium it will leak. This means it’s a race
against time,” he said.
Asked how much time he thought there was, Fabius
said, “People say roughly a year... We hope there will be a negotiation, but we
must act quickly.”
Over the past several days, the regime in Tehran has
been responding with mixed messages to a series of gestures Rouhani and Zarif
made during the recent United Nations General Assembly, widely seen in the West
as progress toward a negotiations process.
For the first time since the
Iranian Revolution of 1979, the leaders of the United States and Iran spoke
directly, and their chief diplomats – Zarif and Secretary of State John Kerry –
met one on one.
But Netanyahu’s speech one week later was an attempt to
unmask the government of Rouhani, who won election based on the promise of
relief from the devastating sanctions regime led by the US.
US President Barack Obama met at the White House before the former leader’s UN
address last Tuesday
, and made joint comments that Zarif called “disappointing”
language “insulting to the Iranian people.”
“What we have done in the
past 10 years has not benefited the P5+1,” Zarif said, adding, “it has not
He characterized the sanctions as “very serious,” and
said he considered their breadth a result of a decades old standoff rooted in
mistrust between Iran and the US.
He also said, on the other hand, that
the same mistrust had led to the installation of more than 18,000 centrifuges
across Iran, used to enrich uranium.
Zarif said that the US advised Iran
before the 1979 Islamic Revolution to diversify its energy supply, and that its
nuclear program achieved that aim for “environmental and sustainable
“The IAEA has not been able to find a single
evidence...that Iran has diverted its activities into non-peaceful
operations,” Zarif said.
Both Rouhani and Obama face opposition at home
from conservatives who fear they may be too willing to grant concessions before
the other side takes tangible steps.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali
Khamenei, who has the final say on the nuclear issue, said on Saturday he
supported Rouhani’s diplomatic opening with the United States.
said some aspects of it were “not proper.” Khamenei did not elaborate on his
objections, but it was a possible reference to the phone conversation between
Rouhani and Obama.
The supreme leader also said he did not trust the
United States as a negotiating partner, a sentiment echoed by
Meanwhile, Iran announced that it plans to launch a satellite
called Zafar-2, meaning “Victory,” into space next year.Reuters
contributed to this report.