Iranian Official Blames Senate’s Sanctions Threats for Hurting Nuclear Negotiations

The country’s foreign minister said a final agreement could pave the way for cooperation in other areas.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif shakes hands with Secretary of State John Kerry after a statement on a landmark deal with Iran halting parts of its nuclear program Nov. 24, 2013 in Geneva.
National Journal
Jordain Carney
Feb. 18, 2014, 12:20 p.m.

Con­gress’s battle over in­creas­ing sanc­tions against Ir­an has caused “a great deal of con­cern” for Ir­a­ni­ans, For­eign Min­is­ter Mo­hammad Javad Za­rif said on Tues­day, but he stressed that ne­go­ti­ations are the only way for­ward for both sides.

“From an Ir­a­ni­an per­spect­ive “¦ what has happened in the last two months has been less than en­cour­aging,” Za­rif said, speak­ing at a Uni­versity of Den­ver event via web­cast from Vi­enna.

Za­rif met with Cath­er­ine Ashton, the European Uni­on’s for­eign policy chief, in Vi­enna on Tues­day, to kick off form­al talks over reach­ing a long-term deal on Ir­an’s nuc­le­ar pro­gram. Ashton is rep­res­ent­ing the United States, United King­dom, France, Ger­many, Rus­sia, and China dur­ing the talks.

He stressed that “state­ments can­not be lim­ited to one audi­ence,” re­fer­ring to the back-and-forth between U.S. and Ir­a­ni­an of­fi­cials who have of­ten ac­cused one an­oth­er of say­ing one thing dur­ing private ne­go­ti­ations and an­oth­er thing when speak­ing to a do­mest­ic audi­ence.

But the Ir­a­ni­an of­fi­cial said the West and Ir­an share the com­mon goal of mak­ing sure Ir­an’s nuc­le­ar pro­gram is purely peace­ful. He stressed that Ir­an is at the ne­go­ti­at­ing table “be­cause of a single over­rid­ing fact, and that is, we have no oth­er op­tion. If you want to re­solve this is­sue, the only way to re­solve it is through ne­go­ti­ations.”

And while he ac­know­ledged that the sanc­tions tar­get­ing the coun­try have crippled its eco­nomy, Za­rif ad­ded that “if the in­ten­tion was to stop the Ir­a­ni­an nuc­le­ar pro­gram, the policy has miser­ably failed.”

Un­der an in­ter­im agree­ment dip­lo­mats reached in Novem­ber, of­fi­cials have un­til late Ju­ly to agree on a long-term deal, but Za­rif dis­missed a spe­cif­ic time frame, not­ing that “there is no end date” be­cause of the “com­mon ob­ject­ive” the coun­tries have.

Al­though the six-month peri­od can be ex­ten­ded, Za­rif said he is hope­ful a fi­nal agree­ment can be reached by the Ju­ly 20 dead­line, but that it would take more than “one or two sit­tings”.

Za­rif largely sidestepped what oth­er top­ics Ir­an and the West could tackle if a long-term agree­ment is reached, say­ing that he is “real­ist­ic enough to fo­cus on this par­tic­u­lar pro­ject,” but he did sug­gest that the two sides could co­oper­ate on a rise in ex­trem­ism.

What We're Following See More »
“MUST NEVER BE PRESIDENT”
Elizabeth Warren Goes After Donald Trump
16 minutes ago
THE DETAILS

In a stark contrast from Michelle Obama's uplifting speech, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke about the rigged system plaguing Americans before launching into a full-throated rebuke of GOP nominee Donald Trump. Trump is "a man who has never sacrificed anything for anyone," she claimed, before saying he "must never be president of the United States." She called him divisive and selfish, and said the American people won't accept his "hate-filled America." In addition to Trump, Warren went after the Republican Party as a whole. "To Republicans in Congress who said no, this November the American people are coming for you," she said.

FLOTUS OFFERS STRONG ENDORSEMENT OF CLINTON
Michelle Obama: “I Trust” Hillary Clinton
36 minutes ago
THE DETAILS

"In this election, and every election, it's about who will have the power to shape our children for the next four or eight years of their lives," Michelle Obama said. "There is only one person who I trust with that responsibility … and that is our friend Hillary Clinton." In a personal and emotional speech, Michelle Obama spoke about the effect that angry oppositional rhetoric had on her children and how she chose to raise them. "When they go low, we go high," Obama said she told her children about dealing with bullies. Obama stayed mostly positive, but still offered a firm rebuke of Donald Trump, despite never once uttering his name. "The issues a president faces cannot be boiled down to 140 characters," she said.

SANDERS BACKER CONFRONTS STUBBORN SANDERS SUPPORTERS
Sarah Silverman to Bernie or Bust: “You’re Being Ridiculous”
1 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Many Bernie Sanders delegates have spent much of the first day of the Democratic National Convention resisting unity, booing at mentions of Hillary Clinton and often chanting "Bernie! Bernie!" Well, one of the most outspoken Bernie Sanders supporters just told them to take a seat. "To the Bernie-or-bust people: You're being ridiculous," said comedian Sarah Silverman in a brief appearance at the Convention, minutes after saying that she would proudly support Hillary Clinton for president.

‘INEXCUSABLE REMARKS’
DNC Formally Apologizes to Bernie Sanders
5 hours ago
THE LATEST

The Democratic National Committee issued a formal apology to Bernie Sanders today, after leaked emails showed staffers trying to sabotage his presidential bid. "On behalf of everyone at the DNC, we want to offer a deep and sincere apology to Senator Sanders, his supporters, and the entire Democratic Party for the inexcusable remarks made over email," DNC officials said in the statement. "These comments do not reflect the values of the DNC or our steadfast commitment to neutrality during the nominating process. The DNC does not—and will not—tolerate disrespectful language exhibited toward our candidates."

Source:
STILL A ‘SAFE SEAT’
DCCC Won’t Aid Wasserman Schultz
6 hours ago
THE LATEST

The chairman of the DCCC said Debbie Wasserman Schultz won't be getting financial help from the organization this year, even as she faces a well-funded primary challenger. "Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) said the committee’s resources will be spent helping Democrats in tough races rather than those in seats that are strongholds for the party." Executive Director Kelly Ward added, “We never spend money in safe seats."

Source:
×