TEHRAN – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has asked Washington to make a “tough decision” to be realistic and acknowledge that Iran has never sought to obtain nuclear weapons.
“The United States should make a very tough decision, and once and for all take a realistic approach to the realities on the ground and drop its fantasies,” Zarif said during a joint press conference with Greek Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos in Tehran on Saturday.
He was responding to remarks by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who recently said Iran had to make some “tough decisions” to assure the international community about the peaceful nature of its nuclear program.
“There are some very tough decisions the Iranians are going to have to make, very tough, in order to meet the international community’s standard for certainty as to the peacefulness of this program,” Kerry told U.S. senators on Capitol Hill on Thursday.
“Iran has never sought to obtain nuclear weapons and will not seek (to obtain them). This is based on our religious principles and strategic views, and we will follow this path,” Zarif said.
“We have announced that our nuclear program has been and will remain peaceful, and Iran will not halt any of its nuclear programs, and the other side is well aware of this fact,” the Iranian foreign minister added.
Iran and the 5+1 group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) made an interim agreement over Tehran’s nuclear program, according to which Iran agreed not to expand its nuclear program and to suspend its 20 percent uranium enrichment in return for a limited easing of the sanctions imposed on the country. The deal took effect on January 20.
Turning to ties with Greece, Zarif said there are proper grounds for Iran and Greece to expand their relations in various areas, adding that relations between the two countries have declined somewhat in recent years due to some pressure and decisions made by the European Union about the Islamic Republic.
Zarif added that he had discussed a range of issues with Venizelos, including the Syria crisis, the nuclear negotiations, and ways to enhance bilateral cooperation in various areas.
The Greek foreign minister, whose currently country holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, expressed hope that Iran and the major powers would be able to find a comprehensive solution to the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program.
And over the course of the negotiations, Tehran and Athens can work out plans for bilateral cooperation and boost their economic ties, Venizelos added.