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Iran daily: Zarif appeals to Iranians — “Please give Us 3 months to negotiate nuclear deal”

In a televised interview of more than two hours on Saturday, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has appealed to Iranians to support a nuclear deal with the 5+1 Powers.

Amid detailed questions about the terms of the nuclear framework, declared last Thursday between Iran and the 5+1 (US, Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia), Zarif said, “We defend our people’s rights, but the talks are tough. Please give us three months to negotiate.”

Reached after months of intensive negotiations, the framework sets out limits on Iran’s nuclear centrifuges and facilities, moves almost all of Tehran’s enriched uranium out of the country or dilutes it, and mandates extensive inspections. The two sides will now discuss implementation of the terms, hoping for a comprehensive resolution by a June 30 deadline.

Needing to minimize the scale of Iranian concessions — given to avoid an economic crisis, caused in part by US-led sanctions — Zarif portrayed Tehran’s resolve: “They wanted to get Iran to submit — [that was the] point of sanctions. I am proud of the Iranian nation, they showed Iran wouldn’t submit.”

Much of the conversation turned on a public rift between Iran and the US after the announcement of the framework. Iranian officials, including Zarif, had accused the Americans of “spinning” the agreed points with a fact sheet setting out the terms and Iran’s concessions. In particular, Tehran claimed Washington was lying with the presentation of a “gradual” removal of US, European Union, and UN sanctions — Zarif and others insisted that the restrictions would be “immediately” lifted upon a comprehensive deal.

However, last night the Foreign Minister effectively admitted that the US language — sanctions will be lifted when the “International Atomic Energy Agency verifies Iranian compliance”, but can be re-imposed if Iran is found in violation of the agreement — is correct:

On the Day One when the IAEA confirms that Iran has implemented its obligations in a deal, the US would have to lift all sanctions.

Zarif said that US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf’s estimate of “six months” for the process was far too cautious — instead, IAEA clearance and the removal of sanctions could come within “six weeks”.

That message, however, appears to be lost on Iranian State media this morning. Press TV omits the Foreign Minister’s proviso about IAEA verification to headline, “Zarif: UNSC [UN Security Council] to Kill Anti-Iran Resolutions Upon Final Deal”.

Fars News, the outlet of the Revolutionary Guards, ignores Zarif’s interview on its English-language site. Instead, it continues to feature Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi’s denunciation of the State Department comments as a “wrong interpretation”.

Fars’ Persian-language site has a full report of Zarif’s remarks, but also omits the statement about IAEA verification.

State news agency IRNA’s English outlet also makes no reference to the proviso and appears to have buried the interview on its Persian-language site.

By EA WorldView