Kerry to Iran's Zarif: U.S. will not remove existing sanctions
John McCain blasts 'dragging' talks: Iranians 'are continuing and cheating... without any constraint whatsoever.'
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in a rare meeting Sunday that the United States would continue applying sanctions linked to the Islamic state's nuclear program.
A senior U.S. State Department official said Kerry, who held private talks with Zarif on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, "made clear that the United States will continue to enforce existing sanctions."
The two diplomats discussed the implementation of a six-month deal reached between Iran and six world powers in November, which calls on Tehran to scale back its uranium enrichment in exchange for a partial lifting of sanctions.
The European Union and the U.S. have temporarily lifted some of the sanctions on Iran after the UN nuclear watchdog confirmed last month that it had scaled back enrichment.
The two sides will now seek to reach a lasting solution to Western concerns that Iran is working on a nuclear weapon. Tehran insists that its atomic program only has peaceful purposes.
A new round of talks is to begin February 18 in Vienna, according to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who is negotiating on behalf of Britain, China, France, Russia, the U.S. and Germany.
Ashton and Zarif met on the sidelines of the annual Munich meeting, which discusses security and political issues.
Kerry told Zarif it was important that both sides negotiate in good faith and Iran should abide by the agreement.
U.S. Senator John McCain, also speaking in Munich, said Iran was cheating.
"Rohani bragged to one of his media outlets how he had deceived the Americans and negotiators when he was a negotiator," he said.
"Construction continues around (the heavy water reactor in) Arak, the centrifuges, 19,000 of them continue to spin, and most importantly implicit in this agreement is the right to enrich," he added.
"We worry about these talks dragging on and dragging on, and meanwhile, as they have in the past, cheating taking place by the Iranians." he said. "There are three components to nuclear weapons: warhead, delivery system and the material itself. They are continuing and cheating on the first two without any constraint whatsoever."
Some members of the U.S. Congress are pushing for new sanctions on Iran. U.S. President Barack Obama has said he would veto any new punitive measures passed by Congress, arguing that they would derail the negotiations.
Defence Minister Moshe Ya'alon said in Munich that Iran was determined to become "at least a military nuclear threshold state," adding that it entered an agreement with the world powers to ease the crippling effects of economic sanctions.
"And we are sure that the Iranians have aspirations to require nuclear military capability," said Ya'alon. "We should watch very carefully how this regime is going to manipulate, to deceive," he said. "To sum up our policy is very clear: by one way or another the military nuclear project in Iran should be stopped."