In an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani forcefully asserted that Iran would not destroy its nuclear centrifuges "under any circumstances".
Rouhani’s comments come just days after the U.S. and Iran began to implement a deal which the White House claims will scale back Iran’s nuclear program. The Obama administration claims the goal of the deal is to prevent a nuclear Iran, yet Rouhani’s comments show Iran views the deal much differently.
Reacting to Rouhani’s position, Zakaria told CNN that the Iranian President’s comments struck him as a "train wreck".
"This strikes me as a train wreck. This strikes me as a huge obstacle because the Iranian conception of what the deal is going to look like and the American conception now look like they are miles apart," Zakaria said.
Below is a full transcript of the exchange:
HASSAN ROUHANI: So in the context of nuclear technology, particularly of research and development and peaceful nuclear technology, we will not accept any limitations. And in accordance with the parliament law, in the future, we're going to need 20,000 mega watts of nuclear produced electricity and we're determined to get it at the hands of our Iranian scientists. And we are going to follow on this path.
FAREED ZAKARIA: So there would be no destruction of centrifuges?
ROUHANI: Not under any circumstances. Not under any circumstances.
CHRIS CUOMO: I mean, Fareed, what is the deal? That's supposed to be the whole underpinning of moving forward from the United States perspective is that they scale back, they dismantle, all this stuff we've been hearing. How do you interpret what you just heard from the president?
ZAKARIA: Well, I was as struck by it as you were, Chris. This strikes me as a train wreck. This strikes me as potentially a huge obstacle because the Iranian conception of what the deal is going to look like and the American conception now look like they are miles apart. The Iranian conception seems to be they produce as much nuclear energy as they want, but it is a civilian program and you can have as much monitoring and inspections as you want. The American position is that they have to very substantially scale back the enrichment of uranium and the production of centrifuges. For the first time you have the president of Iran unequivocally saying there will be no destruction of centrifuges. He also made clear in the interview with me that the two heavy water reactors would continue in operation. So this seems like -- you know, this is stillborn -- I’m not even quite sure what they're going to talk about if these are the opening positions. And it's very hard to walk back from as absolutist a position as the president of Iran laid out.