Iranian Foreign Minister Warns Against ‘Excessive Demands’ After France Demands Inspections

Vahid Salemi/AP
Vahid Salemi/AP

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said today his negotiating partners in the P5+1 should avoid “making excessive demands” on Iran. Zarif was speaking of an unresolved issue in the ongoing nuclear negotiations: giving inspectors access to Iran’s military sites.

“I would expect my negotiating partners to refrain from making excessive demands,” Zarif said according to a report by Iranian state-run Press TV. Zarif added, “If people insist… on re-negotiations, then it will be difficult to envisage an agreement.”

Iran’s leaders have been uniformly saying for weeks that its military sites will be off limits to inspectors. Iran’s Defense Minister called the issue a “red line” just days after the framework agreement was announced on April 2nd. More importantly, Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei has been unequivocal on the issue since early April.

Iran’s view of the agreement made in Lausanne is at odds with the U.S. fact sheet published by the Obama administration, with comments made by President Obama. The U.S. fact sheet says Iran agreed to IAEA inspections of “suspicious sites” located “anywhere in the country.” President Obama, when announcing the deal in the Rose Garden, said, “This deal is not based on trust. It’s based on unprecedented verification.”

Zarif’s comments were made during a stop in Athens, Greece. They were a response to statements by France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who stated Wednesday that his country, “will not accept a deal if it is not clear that inspections can be done at all Iranian installations, including military sites.” Fabius was careful to say this was an independent view held by France, i.e. he was not speaking for the broader P5+1 nations.

The LA Times reported Tuesday that the nuclear negotiations had bogged down, citing the inspections issue as one of the key sticking points that needed to be worked out. Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to start a new round of negotiations with Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif in Switzerland on Saturday.