Rouhani Dismisses Possible Pressure from Congress

Iran's president says he is dealing with the world powers, and not American lawmakers, when it comes to nuclear talks.

Elad Benari,

Hassan Rouhani
Hassan Rouhani

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday dismissed pressure from the U.S. Congress over a preliminary deal on his country’s nuclear program, The Associated Press (AP) reported.

Speaking a day after the Senate Foreign Relations committee gave the green light to a bill that would give Congress the right to review a possible final agreement with Iran, Rouhani said that Tehran is dealing with world powers — not American lawmakers.

In a speech to tens of thousands of Iranians in the northern city of Rasht, the Iranian president said his country is pursuing a "dignified" agreement with the six-member group, which includes the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.

The disputes between the Obama administration and the Congress are an "internal issue," Rouhani said, according to AP.

"Our partner is not the U.S. Congress or the Senate, our partner is a group called '5+1,'" Rouhani said, referring to the six world powers, the five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany.

"It has absolutely nothing to do with our government and nation what ... U.S. representatives or hard-liners say. ... We are looking for reciprocal ... good will and respect," he stressed.

Rouhani reiterated his stance expressed last week that Tehran will not sign on to any final deal unless all economic sanctions are completely lifted.

"If there is no end to sanctions, there will be no deal," Rouhani said, according to AP.

The issue of how and when sanctions are to be removed is one of many contradictions between the United States and Iranian versions of the deal.

Another point of contention is that the U.S. has said Iran will stop using advanced centrifuges and limit itself to researching them, while top Iranian officials last week said they will start using advanced IR-8 centrifuges that are 20-times as effective as standard ones as soon as a deal is reached, meaning they would be able to produce a nuclear arsenal in a rapid timeframe.

For his part, U.S President Barack Obama admitted in an interview last week that as a result of the deal, Iran will be able to reach a "zero" breakout time by 2028, meaning it could produce nuclear weapons immediately whenever it wanted to.