Prospects for Broader Coop. With West

Prospects for Broader Coop. With West Prospects for Broader Coop. With West

A deputy foreign minister said if properly implemented, the recent historic deal with major powers over Tehran's nuclear program could create opportunities for cooperation with the West beyond the nuclear issue, particularly in the fight against terrorism.

"If everything goes well in the implementation of the agreement, I think there will be opportunities. I cannot say now to what extent Iran can cooperate with the West." Majid Takht-Ravanchi said in an interview with the Telegraph in Tehran, published on Tuesday.

He said the struggle against terrorism is one possible area for future cooperation.

"Suppose that this matter is being implemented properly and over time the necessary confidence is built, there are opportunities - and first and foremost is over how to deal with this problem of terrorism and extremism."

The deputy foreign minister for European and American affairs stressed how "menace" posed by the militant group Islamic State transcended national boundaries. "This is an international threat and this needs an international response. We believe that all members of the international community should come together and try to address this problem."

"This is an issue which is not confined to a specific region, which is not related to only one country. So these are the opportunities that can be discussed, can be elaborated, between Iran and others in the future."

The senior nuclear negotiator stressed that it is "premature" to speculate on the chances of Tehran and Washington ending up collaborating beyond the nuclear agreement to address regional problems, noting that the progress of the deal, which he calls a "new baby", would be the decisive factor.  

"For the future, it is premature to see whether there will be possibilities for Iran and the United States to work together on regional issues. First we have to see how this new baby, if I can say, can be brought up," Takht-Ravanchi said, adding that the priority is to ensure the accord, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, is "nurtured, protected, supported".

"It seems to us that we need four to five months before this JCPOA begins to be implemented. So we are talking about somewhere around six months to one year - and I think it is not really wise to talk about it now."

***Domestic Consumption

US President Barack Obama is trying to persuade Congress to endorse the nuclear pact. In order to reassure Republican critics, he has declared that the US retains the option of using force against Iran or re-imposing sanctions.

The deputy foreign minister said Iranians understand that Obama's remarks are "for domestic consumption."

"Talking about the use of force is an empty threat and does not solve any problem. But we know they have difficulties back home, they have to address the concerns being raised in the Congress. As far as reaction to those comments in Iran is concerned, I think the Iranian people know these are not something they should really worry about."  

"There is a bitter history between Iran and the United States. As I said, this nuclear deal can be the foundation for possible future interaction," he noted.

London closed its embassy in Tehran in 2011 after the mission was stormed by a group of protesters and ordered the staff of the Iranian Embassy in London to leave.  

The nuclear negotiator made clear that both embassies would soon reopen. "There are a number of issues which need to be resolved, but I think these are not difficult issues," he said. "We have not discussed officially when that specific date should be, but I don't think this is going to be a major problem."  

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond suggested last week that Britain's Embassy in Tehran could reopen by December.

Takht-Ravanchi said, "I think we can do it even earlier, because these issues are not really serious issues."