Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said that his country would welcome surprise inspections of its nuclear program and called for an end to the sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy, in an appearance on ABC’s This Week.
Zarif also called Friday’s phone call between Presidents Obama and Rouhani, the first between a US and Iranian President since 1979, a “necessary first step toward removing the tensions and doubts and misgivings that the two sides have had about each other for the last 30 years.”
Speaking of its nuclear program, which has been the main source of tension between Iran and much of the world, Zarif said that his country is open to talks, but that “our right to enrich is nonnegotiable.” However, he continued, “we do not need military-grade uranium. That’s a certainty and we will not move in that direction.”
Zarif also responded to allegations by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Iran already has the ability to produce a nuclear weapon. “Mr. Netanyahu and his colleagues have been saying since 1991…that Iran is six months away from a nuclear weapon. And we are how many years, 22 years after that and they are still saying we’re six months away from nuclear weapons.”
President Rouhani faced a backlash for his speech before the UN in Tehran; some people greeted him with tomatoes and chants of “Death to America.” Zarif brushed aside the criticism and said the crowd’s response was a reaction to U.S. policies. “It’s the policies of the U.S. government which has unfortunately been the source of instability in our region for many years,” he said.