Iran rules out friendship with Washington, nuclear deal or not

Senior Iranian official says talks won't lead to normalized diplomatic relations.

Satellite image shows a nuclear facility in Iran (photo credit: REUTERS)
Satellite image shows a nuclear facility in Iran
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – Congress will be so disappointed: A comprehensive nuclear agreement between Iran and the West will not lead to a larger rapprochement between Tehran and Washington, according to one senior Iranian official.
Iran and the US “can behave in a way that they do not use their energy against each other,” Ali Shamkhani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, told the Financial Times on Monday in his first interview with international press.
“Everything will depend on the honesty of the Americans in the nuclear talks,” he said. “We will not die if there is no agreement, and we will not not go to heaven if we reach an agreement.”
Iran has engaged in talks with the US, United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and Germany, known as the P5+1, for over a year, with the stated goal of reaching a comprehensive agreement ending crisis-level tensions over its nuclear program. World powers seek strict surveillance over the program and the dismantling of much of its infrastructure.
Before talks began in the summer of 2013, leadership from the United States and Iran had not directly communicated since 1979.
Yet, asked whether Tehran might be willing to normalize diplomatic relations with Washington after a nuclear deal is clinched, Shamkhani said, “No.”
“Negotiations are only for the nuclear issue,” he said.
Obama administration officials have provided similar responses when asked whether the US would broaden cooperation with Iran in its fight against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
The nuclear talks, State Department officials say, are focused on the nuclear file, with a few exceptional conversations on the sidelines of the talks concerning news of the day.
At the same time, the US and Iran have shared interests in Iraq, US Secretary of State John Kerry has said.
Both are conducting air strikes against the Sunni Islamist group in Iraqi territory at the request of the Iraqi government.
“Today, Iraq is a closer ally of Iran than it was before because the Iraqi government and people... realized that Iran is their strategic depth,” Shamkhani told FT.
Shamkhani also expressed hope for better relations with Saudi Arabia.