Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif hit back at U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry late on Tuesday and blamed divisions between Western powers for the failure of talks over Tehran's disputed nuclear program in Geneva last week.
Responding to remarks by Kerry in Abu Dhabi on Monday, Zarif said that blaming Iran only served to undermine confidence in the negotiations which are set for another round on November 20.
The United States, the European Union and Iran worked intensively together for months on a proposal to help end the 10-year stand-off over Iran's nuclear program, diplomats said. But talks in Geneva between Tehran and six world powers ended on Saturday without an agreement.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Paris could not accept a "fool's game" - in other words, a weak deal with Iran.
Diplomats from other Western nations at first reacted angrily and accused the French of trying to upstage the other powers and causing unnecessary trouble for the talks.
On Monday though, Kerry said the major powers were "unified on Saturday when we presented a proposal to the Iranians, and the French signed off on it, we signed off on it, and everybody agreed it was a fair proposal. There was unity, but Iran couldn't take it at that particular moment, they weren't able to accept that particular thing."
Zarif denied the Iranian side was to blame.
"Mr. Secretary, was it Iran that gutted over half of U.S. draft Thursday night? And publicly commented against it Friday morning?" Zarif asked on Twitter.
"No amount of spinning can change what happened within [p]5+1 in Geneva from 6 P.M. Thursday to 5:45 P.M. Saturday. But it can further erode confidence," he tweeted. "We are committed to constructive engagement. Interaction on equal footing key to achieve shared objectives."
Western nations are determined to stop Iran from being able to make nuclear weapons and the United States and Israel have repeatedly said all options, a reference to possible military strikes, are on the table.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday criticized the negotiations with Iran. Coming into a meeting with Kerry, ahead of his departure to Geneva, Netanyahu warned that Israel is not bound by any deal made with Iran. Netanyahu, who said Iran was getting "the deal of the century," called on the U.S. and European states not to sign the agreement that was being discussed in Geneva.
The New York Times slammed Netanyahu's stance, claiming that he was leading an "hysterical opposition." In an editorial published on Tuesday, the newspaper described Netanyahu's demand to completely dismantle Iran's nuclear program as unrealistic, likening it to conditions made by former U.S. President George Bush - which resulted in "an Iranian program that is more advanced than ever."
Kerry said on Monday that Netanyahu "needs to recognize that no agreement" that no agreement has been reached with Iran and that his opposition is premature.
Iran says its uranium enrichment program is entirely peaceful and insists it has the right enrich uranium for civilian power plants and medical research.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now