Iran daily: Foreign minister Zarif to New York audience — “US will isolate itself in world if it breaks nuclear agreement”

Amid Iran’s renewed nuclear talks with the 5+1 Powers, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has put Tehran’s case to a New York audience, warning that the US risks global isolation if it abandons a comprehensive agreement.

Speaking at a question-and-answer session at New York University, Zarif said, “I don’t think the problems are insurmountable” for resolution by a June 30 deadline. He then cautioned:

I believe the United States will risk isolating itself in the world if there is an agreement and it decides to break it.

I think the United States, whether you have a Democratic president or whether you have a Republican president, is bound by international law, whether some senators like it or not. And international law requires the United States to live up to the terms of an agreement that this government enters into….

So if the U.S. Senate wants to send a message to the rest of the world that all of these agreements are invalid, then you will have chaos in your bilateral relations with the rest of the world,” Mr. Zarif said. “I don’t think that is something that even the most radical elements in Congress want to see.

Speaking about specific elements of the deal, the Foreign Minister maneuvered around the issue of the removal of US-led sanctions by indicating that they could be lifted or suspended with a “few weeks” of signature of a comprehensive agreement.

Following the April 2 announcement of a nuclear framework, the US and Iran publicly differed over the terms of sanctions removal. Washington said that lifting or suspension of US, European Union, and UN restrictions is linked to International Atomic Energy Agency verification of Iranian compliance, while top Iranian officials said the removal must be immediate.

Zarif said on Wednesday that signature of the deal will “terminate all previous [UN] resolutions including the sanctions resolutions”, with binding effect on the US Government. Implicitly recognizing the condition of IAEA verification, he said, “All steps will only take few weeks to implement.”

The Foreign Minister also appeared to accept the US condition of re-imposition of sanctions upon any violation of the agreement by cleverly reframing the provision as one that could be applied to Washington: “Iran will have its own provision of snap-back if the US fails to meet its obligations.”

Zarif said that Iran is ready to provide the “highest level of transparency” to its nuclear facilities, based on the Additional Protocol of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Tehran voluntarily adhered to the terms of the Additional Protocol several years ago during negotiations with Britain, France, and Germany, but withdrew when talks broke down.

However, the Foreign Minister appeared to reiterate Iran’s position against unrestricted access to its military sites, opposing “arbitrary visits which not only Iran but no other country could accept when it comes to its sensitive facilities”.

Republican Senator Tom Cotton, who organized a letter with 46 colleagues warning Tehran that President Obama cannot establish an agreement without Congressional approval, hit back at Zarif on Twitter:

He accused Zarif of hiding in the US during the 1980s Iran-Iraq war “while peasants and kids were marched to die”, saying this showed “cowardly character still on display today”.

The Foreign Minister did not reply.

Representatives of Iran and the 5+1 Powers (US, Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia) have been meeting since Monday on the sidelines of a UN conference on the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

By EA WorldView