Rohani: 'Iran Won't Sign Deal Unless Sanctions Lifted on Same Day'

During televised speech, Iranian president calls on Saudi Arabia to halt airstrikes on Houthi fighters in Yemen; Kerry: U.S. 'well aware' of Iranian support for Houthis.

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Iranian President Hassan Rohani at a public appearance last month.
Iranian President Hassan Rohani at a public appearance last month.Credit: AFP
Reuters
Reuters

Iran will only sign a final nuclear accord with six world powers if all sanctions imposed over its disputed atomic work are lifted on the same day, President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised speech on Thursday.

Iran and the powers reached a tentative agreement last week in the Swiss city of Lausanne aimed at restricting Tehran's nuclear program in return for removing the economic penalties.

All sides are working towards a June 30 deadline for a final deal on the nuclear work, which Western powers fear is aimed at developing an atomic bomb but Tehran says is purely peaceful.

"We will not sign any deal unless all sanctions are lifted on the same day ... We want a win-win deal for all parties involved in the nuclear talks," Rouhani said.

Since the preliminary agreement was reached, Iran and the United States seem to have different interpretations over some issues, including the pace and extent of sanctions removal.

"Our goal in the talks (with major powers) is to preserve our nation's nuclear rights. We want an outcome that will be in everyone's benefit," Rouhani said in a ceremony to mark Iran's National Day of Nuclear Technology.

"The Iranian nation has been and will be the victor in the negotiations."

Iran insists all nuclear-related United Nations resolutions, as well as U.S. and EU nuclear-related economic sanctions, will be lifted immediately once a final accord is signed.

But the United States said on Monday that sanctions would have to be phased out gradually under the comprehensive nuclear pact.

The U.S. and EU sanctions have choked off nearly 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) of Iranian exports since early 2012, reducing its oil exports by 60 percent to around 1 million barrels a day.

"Our main gain in the talks was the fact that U.S. President Barack Obama acknowledged that Iranians will not surrender to bullying, sanctions and threats," Rouhani said.

"It is a triumph for Iran that the first military power in the world has admitted Iranians will not bow to pressure."

Also during his speech, Rohani also called on Saudi Arabia to halt a two-week-old campaign of air strikes against Houthi fighters in Yemen and said countries in the region should work to bring Yemen's rival factions to the negotiating table.

"A great nation like Yemen will not submit to bombing. Come, let us all think about ending war. Let us think about a ceasefire," Rouhani said in a televised speech. "Let us prepare to bring Yemenis to the negotiating table to make decisions about their future."

Saudi Arabia and a coalition that includes four other Gulf Arab states have waged air strikes against the Iran-allied Houthis to try to drive them back from the southern city of Aden. Iran denies Saudi and U.S. accusations that it has armed the Houthis.

On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States is well aware of the support that Iran has been providing to Houthi forces who have driven Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi out of the country.

Kerry said the United States would support countries in the Middle East who feel threatened by Iran.

"We're not looking for confrontation, obviously, but we're not going to step away from our alliances and our friendships and the need to stand with those who feel threatened as a consequence of the choices that Iran might be making," Kerry said in an interview with PBS Newshour.

Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, while visiting Pakistan, called for peace talks to resolve the crisis in Yemen.
State-run Pakistani media say Mohammad Javad Zarif met Thursday with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to discuss the conflict in Yemen.

Zarif, who arrived in Islamabad on Wednesday, has said that Iran is ready to facilitate peace talks that would lead to a broad-based government in Yemen. He also called for a cease-fire to allow for humanitarian assistance.

Zarif's visit comes as Pakistan's parliament is debating whether to contribute forces to the Saudi-led air campaign against Yemen's Houthi rebels.

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