Zarif: We Didn’t Agree to Dismantle Anything

Iranian Foreign Minister says the United States is falsely portraying the interim deal as a dismantling of Iran's nuclear program.

Elad Benari ,

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif denied on Wednesday that his country had agreed to dismantle its centrifuges as part of a nuclear agreement reached with the West.

Speaking to CNN, Zarif insisted that the Obama administration was mischaracterizing the concessions by Iran in the six-month nuclear deal, saying that "we did not agree to dismantle anything."

Zarif said that terminology used by the White House to describe the agreement differed from the text agreed to by Iran and the other countries in the talks - Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany.

"The White House version both underplays the concessions and overplays Iranian commitments" under the agreement that took effect Monday, Zarif told CNN from Davos, Switzerland, where he was attending the World Economic Forum.

As part of the deal, Iran was required to dilute its stockpile of uranium that had been enriched to 20%, well above the 5% level needed for power generation but still below the level for developing a nuclear weapon.

In addition, the deal mandated that Iran halt all enrichment above 5% and "dismantle the technical connections required to enrich above 5%," according to a White House fact sheet issued in November after the initial agreement was reached.

Zarif accused the Obama administration of creating a false impression with such language.

"The White House tries to portray it as basically a dismantling of Iran's nuclear program. That is the word they use time and again," he charged. "If you find a single, a single word, that even closely resembles dismantling or could be defined as dismantling in the entire text, then I would take back my comment."

Zarif repeated that "we are not dismantling any centrifuges, we're not dismantling any equipment, we're simply not producing, not enriching over 5%."

"You don't need to over-emphasize it," Zarif said of the White House language.

The implementation of the nuclear agreement reached between Iran and six world powers officially began on Monday. The United States has already formally lifted select sanctions on Iran, claiming Iran is taking step to curb back its nuclear program.

As part of the implementation of the new deal, Iran will receive the first $550 million installment of a total of $4.2 billion in previously blocked overseas funds on or about February 1.

Zarif and other Iranian officials have repeatedly stressed that Iran will not give up on its right to enrich uranium.

Iranian lawmakers have also threatened that they would pass a bill that would oblige the government to produce 60-percent enriched uranium should the United States slap new sanctions on Iran.