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Iran slams US as “obsessed” with sanctions as talks resume

THE LEVANT – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Wednesday accused Washington of being “obsessed” with sanctions as a new round of high-stakes bilateral nuclear negotiations opened in New York.

“We are committed to resolving this issue,” Zarif told a US think-tank, as a State Department official confirmed to AFP that the two sides had resumed talks here late Wednesday.

But Zarif argued part of the problem blocking a deal was the US “infatuation” with sanctions.

“This deal would require the United States to lift the sanctions, and the reason Congress is objecting to this is that it wants to keep these sanctions,” Zarif told the Council on Foreign Relations.

“Sanctions have become an end in themselves. Sanctions do not serve any purpose,” he argued, saying during the time that the Iranian economy has been slapped with Western measures the number of the country’s centrifuges has soared from 200 to 20,000.

“So sanctions have produced, just in normal calculus, 18,800 centrifuges,” he said, joking it was “simple maths.”

  • ‘Safer world’ –

US Secretary of State John Kerry told lawmakers the aim was to reach a deal under which “any pathway to a bomb will be eliminated” and “we have the ability to come to you and say the world is safer, our allies in the region are safer.”

“That’s the goal. We’re not there yet. I don’t know if we can get there,” said Kerry, who has insisted that military action against Iran’s suspect nuclear facilities has not been ruled out.

The two sides missed a July target date for a deal following an interim deal under which Iran agreed to freeze its uranium enrichment in return for access to some about $7 billion in oil revenues frozen in bank accounts around the world.

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany — known as the P5+1 — are returning to the negotiating table with Iran seeking to reach a deal to scale back Tehran’s nuclear activities by a new November 24 deadline.

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