Nuclear Deal a Litmus Test for US

Nuclear Deal a Litmus Test for USNuclear Deal a Litmus Test for US

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said a prospective deal to resolve the long-running dispute over Tehran's nuclear program would be "a litmus test" of the US readiness to change its hostile policy toward the Islamic Republic.  

"This deal is a litmus test of the degree to which the United States is willing to abandon the illusion of regime change in Iran, the illusion of animosity and antagonism toward the Iranian people and Iran's revolution," Zarif said in an interview with Spiegel.  Asked whether Iran is ready for a thaw in its relations with the US, Zarif said, "We're not talking about rapprochement. We will have differences with the United States no matter what.

"The United States and Iran have different world views. We will not abandon ours…We have a single issue that we are addressing with the United States, and that is the nuclear issue. If we can successfully address this, then that will provide a basis to consider whether we can deal with other issues."

  Global Audience  

Commenting on the US fact sheet on the key points of a preliminary understanding Iran and the major powers reached in the Swiss city of Lausanne on April 2, the senior diplomat said, "I do not believe that the practice of producing fact sheets is a very useful one."

"The world has gone through a significant change. You cannot pick and choose your audience anymore. In the past, you could present your version of reality, your narrative to your audience, and the other side could have presented their narrative to their audience. But today in the age of the Internet and social media, narratives become global… So you need to be able to present the final, complete package."

Asked about Iran's insistence that its military sites cannot be inspected by the UN nuclear agency as part of any nuclear accord, Zarif said, "We have said that if we do reach an agreement, Iran will be prepared within its own domestic legal system to implement an additional protocol to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

"Obviously, no country provides open access to its secret facilities. And all international treaties take care of how you deal with your state secrets. I do not believe Iran has any difficulty with accepting international transparency standards."

  Huge Distrust

Pointing to the concerns voiced by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei about the US approach to the nuclear negotiations, he said, "We are all concerned about the sincerity and seriousness of our western negotiating partners, particularly the United States. The level of distrust is huge, and it's mutual."

On Iran's position on the conflict in Yemen, he said, "What we've said is that problems in this region will not be resolved by the use of force. We said from the very beginning that people tried to create a power vacuum in Yemen in order to provide for the use of force. That was wrong from the beginning and in the interest of nobody other than al Qaeda."

In response to the allegation by some US officials that Iran plays a destabilizing role in the region, the foreign minister said, "The source of instability in this region is a short-sighted attempt to arm and finance extremist groups like Daesh (the Islamic State), the al-Nusra Front and al Qaeda. Everybody who has used extremists in our region has fallen victim to them."

In reply to a question why the relationship between Tehran and Riyadh has worsened despite the fact that President Hassan Rouhani had designated improving relations with Saudi Arabia as a priority, he said, "Unfortunately, there has been a barrage of insulting comments coming from Saudi Arabia to which I have refrained from reacting. And many in the Iranian government have exercised a huge deal of self-restraint in not reacting to those comments and actions -- both public as well as private comments that have come from our neighbors in Saudi Arabia. People have to stop panicking."