ISTANBUL — Iran’s foreign minister says that both Iran and the West need a new approach if negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program are to succeed.
Mohammad Javad Zarif said Friday, at a conference on disarmament in Istanbul, that a decade of failed negotiations have led to consequences neither side wanted. To Western dismay, Iran has drastically boosted its ability to enrich uranium. And to Iran’s detriment, international sanctions have hurt its economy.
“We have both seen the nuclear issue as a zero-sum game,” he said, adding that he hopes “we have come to an understanding that the approach was wrong.”
Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, meanwhile, told state TV late Thursday that the Iranian side was “hopeful to make achievements on the content” in the next round of the talks next week.
But Araqchi cautioned the road ahead is “a long and meandrous path.”
The Iranian officials’ statements came ahead of the second round of talks between Iran and the P5+1 world powers — the five permanent members of the Security Council, and Germany — over Tehran’s nuclear program, scheduled for November 7-8. The Iranian foreign minister heads Iran’s negotiating team.
Ties between Iran and Western powers, most notably the United States, have warmed recently as the Islamic Republic has been perceived as being more amenable to negotiate over its controversial program, which it insists is for peaceful purposes.
The West, and especially Israel, remain skeptical.
Israel has said it believes Iran is using the talks as a stalling tactic while it marches forward toward the bomb, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeatedly asserting that Tehran is duping the world and has no intention of halting its rogue nuclear program.
Netanyahu has warned that the West must step up its sanctions regime against Iran in order to push Iran’s leaders to relinquish all enrichment in any future deal.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration has pushed for a delay on the imposition of further sanctions on Tehran.
On Monday, US Secretary of State John Kerry said international negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program were “an opportunity to put to test” the Islamic Republic’s intentions, and it would be “the height of irresponsibility” to let “fear tactics and forces that suggest otherwise” block those negotiations.
Kerry’s comments appeared to constitute a response to Israel’s repeated warnings to the international community over Iran’s true intentions regarding negotiations.
The US is engaged in “an opportunity to try to put to test whether or not Iran really desires to pursue only a peaceful program, and will submit to the standards of the international community in the effort to prove that to the world,” Kerry said.
“Some have suggested that somehow there’s something wrong with even putting that to the test,” the secretary of state continued. “I suggest that the idea that the United States of America as a responsible nation to all of humankind would not explore that possibility would be the height of irresponsibility and dangerous in itself, and we will not succumb to those fear tactics and forces that suggest otherwise,” he said.