Iranian Foreign Minister ‘All Smiles’

Zarif demands less ‘pressure’ from Western side

Javad Zarif / AP
April 1, 2015

LAUSANNE, Switzerland—Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, said late Wednesday that he is "all smiles" as talks with Western powers over the country’s nuclear weapons program run past a self-imposed deadline and Tehran pushes the United States to make more concessions.

When asked by a reporter whether he was feeling less optimistic following tension in the negotiating room, Zarif responded, "I am all smiles."

Zarif also demanded that negotiators stop pressuring him and the Iranian side lest the talks stall without an agreement.

"Any agreement and pressure will not go together," Zarif said. "They are mutually exclusive. So our friends need to decide whether they want to be with Iran based on respect or that they want to continue based on pressure. They have tested the other one. It’s high time to test this one."

Secretary of State John Kerry will remain in town until Thursday morning in a bid to patch over remaining disagreements with Iran over what an initial political agreement will look like.

The extension in talks appeared to rile Western reporters and opened questions about just how many concessions Iran is angling to receive.

Details of that agreement remain vague and U.S. officials are discussing few details ahead of any announcement.

Meanwhile, U.S. allies such as Israel and Saudi Arabia have continued to express reservations about reported concessions the United States is making concerning the size and scope Iran’s nuclear program going forward.

These include Iran’s refusal to export its stockpiles of enriched uranium, the key component in a nuclear weapon.

President Obama on late Tuesday held a video conference with Kerry and other senior U.S. officials to discuss the ongoing talks.

Obama "convened a secure video teleconference with members of his national security team to discuss the P5+1 negotiations with Iran," said Bernadette Meehan, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, in a statement. "The president received an update on the current status of the negotiations from Secretaries Kerry and Moniz and other members of the negotiating team in Lausanne, Switzerland, and thanked the team for their continuing efforts."