Jan 23, 2014, 9:18 AM
News Code: 2626288
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Zarif to CNN: "We did not agree to dismantle anything"

Tehran, Jan 23, IRNA - Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif Wednesday stressed that terminology used by the White House to describe the Geneva deal differed from the text agreed to by Iran and the other countries in the talks -- the US, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany.

In an exclusive interview with CNN, Zarif said the Obama administration mischaracterizes concessions by his side in the six-month nuclear deal with Iran, stressing "we did not agree to dismantle anything."

"The White House version both underplays the concessions and overplays Iranian commitments" under the agreement that took effect Monday, Zarif said in Davos, Switzerland, where he was attending the World Economic Forum.

Zarif reiterated that the Obama administration is creating a false impression with such language.

He told CNN Chief National Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto, "The White House tries to portray it as basically a dismantling of Iran's nuclear program. That is the word they use time and again."

He then urged Sciutto to read the actual text of the agreement. "If you find a single, a single word, that even closely resembles dismantling or could be defined as dismantling in the entire text, then I would take back my comment."

He repeated that "we are not dismantling any centrifuges, we're not dismantling any equipment, we're simply not producing, not enriching over 5%. You don't need to over-emphasize it".

"All of us are facing difficulties and oppositions and concerns and misgivings," he said, noting he had been summoned Wednesday to Iran's parliament to answer questions.

Asked about his talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry, Zarif called it "very difficult because we're both going into these negotiations with a lot of baggage."

Progress has been made, he said, but "it's yet too early to talk about trust."

Iran was invited to the Syrian talks by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, then disinvited under pressure from the United States because Tehran refused to endorse conditions in a previous agreement.

"We do not like the way Iran was treated," Zarif told CNN, adding "it did not enhance the credibility of the United Nations or the office of the Secretary General."

The Iranian foreign minister expressed hope that the Syrian talks could succeed, but he criticized Syrian opposition groups and their supporters for spreading extremism and trying to impose their will on the Syrian people.

To Zarif, an agreement among Syrians that brings a democratically elected government is the only solution.