Iranian nuclear negotiator optimistic, frustrated and aggrieved

As the Iranian nuclear negotiation deadline nears, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif posts a YouTube video asserting that Iran advanced its nuclear program because of sanctions, and warned that further sanctions will not have the intended effect.

By JC Finley

VIENNA, July 14 (UPI) -- With the July 20 Iranian nuclear negotiation deadline less than a week away, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has publicly expressed optimism, frustration, and grievances about the pace and direction of the talks in Vienna.

On Sunday, the foreign minister took to Twitter, writing: "We're able to make history by this time next Sunday" while cautioning that "Concerns of all sides must be addressed to reach a deal."


He then posted that "I won't engage in blame games or spin," adding that it's "Not my style."

But Zarif has blamed the West for forcing Iran to escalate the development of its nuclear program.


In a YouTube video posted July 2, Zarif claimed, "We could have resolved the nuclear issue in 2005 but then people didn't believe me when i said the Iranians were allergic to pressure. The Bush administration torpedoed the deal by demanding that we abandon enrichment all together. They then opted for pressure and sanctions for eight years."

The sanctions negatively impacted the Iranian general population, Zarif said, "but sanctions did not cripple our nuclear program." Instead, he argued that the imposed sanctions pushed Iran to escalate its nuclear program.

"In fact, [the sanctions] achieved the exact opposite. Insisting on no enrichment resulted in a hundred fold increase in our centrifuges from less than 200 to almost 20,000. Refusing to sell fuel for our American built research reactor forced us to produce our own fuel by increasing our own enrichment levels from 3.5 percent to 20 percent. Depriving Iranian cancer patients from medical [care] compelled us to build a heavy water reactor...

"Western governments cried 'foul,' ignoring that they brought this upon themselves."

Zarif warned against the further use of sanctions, asserting, "It did not bring the Iranian people to kneel in submission and it will not now, nor in the future."


What, in his opinion, can make a nuclear agreement possible? "Try mutual respect," says Zarif.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Zarif on Monday to, in the words of an unnamed senior U.S. administration official "assess Iran's willingness to make the critical choices it will need to make if we have a chance of getting a comprehensive agreement."

The U.S. is looking for Iran's assurances that it will not acquire a nuclear weapon and that Iran's nuclear program is "exclusively peaceful," U.S. officials have repeatedly stated.

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