Iran on Thursday dismissed as “unrealistic and unconstructive” comments by President Barack Obama that international sanctions linked to its nuclear program had forced Tehran to the negotiating table, AFP reported.
“The delusion of sanctions having an effect on Iran’s motivation for nuclear negotiations is based on a false narration of history,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham was quoted as saying by state broadcaster IRIB.
In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Obama said that U.S. and international pressure had led to the interim deal struck in November between Iran and six global powers, under which Tehran agreed to scale back uranium enrichment in return for sanctions relief.
“American diplomacy, backed by pressure, has halted the progress of Iran’s nuclear program and rolled parts of that program back,” Obama said.
“The sanctions that we put in place helped make this opportunity possible,” he added.
Afkham, in comments posted on the IRIB website, dismissed Obama’s comments.
“It is a totally wrong interpretation of Tehran’s interest to create an opportunity for Western countries to have another kind of relation with the Iranian nation,” she claimed.
Afkham also rejected Obama’s assertion that diplomacy had opened a window which could forestall any possible nuclear weapons drive by Iran.
“America considers preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon to be its biggest achievement, but it is wrong since Iran has never sought to obtain a nuclear weapon and will never do so in future,” she said.
As part of the nuclear deal struck with Iran in Geneva and which went into effect last week, Tehran committed to limit its uranium enrichment to five percent, halting production of 20 percent-enriched uranium.
In return the European Union and the United States have eased crippling economic sanctions on Iran, which the United States has already begun to do.
The negotiators have set out a six-month timeframe to negotiate a fully comprehensive deal. The talks on a permanent deal are set to begin in New York in mid-February.
In his speech, Obama also pledged to veto any bill by lawmakers to impose new sanctions against Iran, warning the move could derail the talks.
On Thursday it was reported that Obama had scored success in his attempt to prevent new sanctions, as several senators have decided not to push for them following his veto threat.
A new sanctions bill had previously been gaining momentum in Congress.