|Iran sticking to the letter of the Geneva agreement: Zarif||
TEHRAN – Iran is sticking to the letter of the interim deal over its nuclear program and believes it is important that it uses this opportunity to build confidence, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told euronews in an interview published on Tuesday.
Following are excerpts of the text of the interview:
euronews: Dr. Zarif, what’s wrong with the agreement? Why are you squabbling over it with the U.S.?
Mohammad Javad Zarif: We are not, we are actually sticking to the letter of the agreement. That’s why we didn’t produce any fact sheets. We believe it is important for us to use this opportunity to build confidence.
euronews: Hardly a week passes in which you wouldn’t say that no we continue with our nuclear program and America would say, ‘No, they are not allowed to do this, they are not allowed to do that’. So immediately after the press conference at the end of the Geneva negotiations – I was there – you said that we are going to continue with our nuclear program, then Mr. Kerry came and said they are not allowed to continue with their program.
Zarif: The agreement is very clear. There are certain parts of the Iranian nuclear program that will continue; there are certain parts that … I mean.. the enrichment over five percent, that we have agreed not to continue.
euronews: So the ‘hoo-ha’ is for internal consumption?
******* Zarif: I have tried to remain very true to what we agreed and not to try to ‘spin’ it for domestic consumption, that is why I didn’t produce any fact sheets. It wasn’t an attempt by Iran to win at the expense of the other side because we believe that is not sustainable. And now we have agreed that on February 18 we will meet in Vienna to start working on the difficult part, that is the comprehensive deal.
euronews: “Right. In return for a partial cut to your nuclear program, you are now receiving the seven billion dollars Iranian assets frozen in America, in tranches, is that right?
Zarif: There are sanctions relief. Of course we did not believe from the beginning that these sanctions were legal, because this is our money and there is no international legal instrument that would prevent us from having access to our money. There is some cash that will become available, there are other areas, for instance revenues from petrochemical sales by Iran. So, that amounts to some amount of money, but I am not going to quarrel about the exact dollar figure because it’s just the beginning and we will start knowing how much it will come to when it comes to the end of the six months.
euronews: So in short, you are receiving tranches of your own money but not in cash often. What’s dictated to Iran is: we release this amount of money in return for sending you our goods at the price that we decide.
Zarif: No, it’s not. Actually we can take some of this money in cash, and the rest in open letters of credit with whoever we want to purchase. It is not… I don’t like to be dictated to and I will never accept anything dictated to me….
euronews: But they have put a cap on oil exports…
Zarif: They had put a cap on oil exports previously. They agreed not to increase the cap. As I said, these sanctions were illegal to begin with, but we are dealing with a world that is not run by legality. It is a world, unfortunately, where American political muscle and economic muscle usually go to persuade countries and the private sector…
euronews: Do you see yourself as a victim?
Zarif: I see the international community as a victim, because we have allowed might to be able to overcome right. But that’s the fact and I am not going to quarrel about that. It is a situation where we want to move ahead and establish a different type of relations with the international community. As you know, we came into office only six months ago, and we inherited a situation which was not the best circumstances. The United States was enabled – basically because of certain mistakes that were made – to impose its views on the rest of the international community. It is not a healthy exercise but it is an exercise that is ongoing nevertheless.
euronews: You have invited oil companies, cartels, international cartels to come to Iran and sign agreements for Iranian oil. What are the terms on which you have agreed with them? And if you have already signed any contracts….
Zarif: It is just the beginning and few haven’t signed any contracts….
euronews: Are you going to release copies of those contacts for the public to see?
Zarif: “Usually, oil contracts are not public documents. In no other country, there are confidentiality clauses in every oil deal that is available, but we have constitutional limitations. We are trying to make our oil sector more open to international investment, and our ministry of petroleum is in the process of developing new types of agreements. I am sure the model agreement will be out in the open. We’ll make it public once it is ready so that everybody, every oil company can benefit from the new openings in the Iranian market which is very much appreciated by international oil companies, but the details of every deal that we make with every corporation will be governed by the confidentiality clauses within that agreement.
euronews: The public – Iranians – are concerned that you being in this situation, you’ve already succumbed to pressure by the international community, they are afraid that these contracts are being signed to the benefit of the oil cartels and that they go back to the Qajar period (the dynasty before Pahlavi during whose reign, Iran was badly exploited by the powers of the time i.e. Britain, France, and Russia. It is known as the darkest page in the Iranian history.)
Zarif: That will certainly not happen. The Iranian public has a way of expressing its views, and that is through the ballot box. They’ve done it in the past. If they consider our behavior to be outside the limits of national interest, they will do it again.
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