Zarif: It is only natural for US lawmakers to be skeptical of Iran nuclear deal

In 'Washington Post' interview, Iran's FM says opposition to Geneva deal is expected, but alarming when coming from Obama administration.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
December 16, 2013 11:58
2 minute read.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Stephanie McGehee)

 
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Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamed Javad Zarif said that he believes it is "only natural" for US lawmakers to be skeptical of the agreement between Iran and world powers on Tehran's nuclear program.

Speaking in an interview with The Washington Post's David Ignatius published Monday, Zarif said that he understands that there are multiple views within the US and the other P5+1 powers (Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China and Germany,) some of which are opposed to the nuclear deal.

"We have various views in Iran. Some of them have been very frankly and vehemently expressed by the opponents of the agreement, to the extent that some have asked for my removal. I believe that’s only natural in a democratic society where you have different forces, different political views and different branches of government operating to check and balance the exertion of political power," Zarif said.

Zarif added, however, that "if statements are made that run counter to the very aim of the negotiations, coming from within the administration, then that becomes extremely counterproductive. So we needed to bring that to the attention of our negotiating partners in very strong terms. And we believe we did."

"That does not mean that negotiations are dead. That means negotiations have hit a snag: As Mark Twain rightly pointed out, the news of their demise is greatly exaggerated," he added.

Late last week, the US Departments of State and Treasury designated 19 additional companies as contributing to the progress of Iran’s nuclear program, in violation of existing sanctions passed by Congress or enacted by President Barack Obama.


The Iranian government initially responded to the new designations by characterizing them as new sanctions, which would violate the terms of the deal agreed upon in Geneva last month between Iran and the P5+1— the US, United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and Germany.

US officials have said the blacklisting move showed that the Geneva deal would not interfere with their policy of economic embargoes designed to curb entities suspected of supporting Iran’s nuclear program.

Zarif suggested that Iran would not stop uranium enrichment completely or dismantle the Arak heavy-water reactor, saying Tehran could not be expected to "roll back the clock 20 years...to simply get rid of a project that has been the subject of a great deal of human and material investment."

However, he stated there where various ways to ensure Iran's nuclear program was solely for peaceful purposes.

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