The Iranian president has said Tehran would not accept a comprehensive nuclear deal with major powers if all sanctions imposed on Tehran were not lifted, state television has reported.
“If there is no end to sanctions, there will not be an agreement,” Hassan Rouhanisaid in a televised speech on Wednesday. “The end of these negotiations and a signed deal must include a declaration of cancelling the oppressive sanctions on the great nation of Iran.”
Iran wants sanctions that include nuclear-related UN resolutions as well as US and EU nuclear-related economic sanctions to be lifted immediately. The US says sanctions against Iran will be removed gradually.
In what was seen as a setback for Barack Obama, the US president agreed on Tuesday that Congress should have the power to review any deal with Iran, backing down to pressure from Republicans and some in his own party.
The move blocks Obama’s ability to waive many US sanctions on Tehran while Congress reviews the deal. It also allows Congress a final vote on whether to lift sanctions imposed by US legislators.
Rouhani said this was an internal issue for Washington. “What the US Senate, Congress and others say is not our problem. We want mutual respect … We are in talks with the major powers and not with the Congress,” Rouhani said, adding that Iran wanted to end its isolation by having “constructive interaction with the world and not confrontation”.
The Israeli intelligence minister, Yuval Steinitz, said on Wednesday that his country was pleased with the Congress deal. Israel was critical of a preliminary accord reached between Iran and world powers on 2 April, saying it would not prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons.
Iran says its nuclear programme is peaceful, but it has never welcomed intrusive inspections and has in the past kept some sites secret.
A delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN’s nuclear watchdog, arrived in Tehran on Wednesday for scheduled technical talks, Iran’s semi-official Mehr news agency reported.
Talks with the IAEA are parallel to Iran’s nuclear negotiations, with the powers seeking a permanent agreement on curbing the country’s nuclear activities by 30 June. Iran and major powers will resume talks on 21 April.