Iran hails Zarif as hero after nuclear deal
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Iran’s foreign minister and top nuclear negotiator, Mohammed Javad Zarif, received a hero’s welcome Sunday upon return to his homeland, after clinching a landmark deal with world powers on its nuclear programme.
Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, received a hero’s welcome as he returned to his homeland late on Sunday night after clinching a milestone deal with world powers on the country’s nuclear programme.
Under the accord, the US , France, Britain, Germany, China and Russia have agreed to partially ease sanctions on Iran and unblock billions of dollars in frozen assets as the Islamic Republic commits itself to limiting its uranium enrichment activities.
Zarif and his negotiating team were greeted by hundreds of cheering supporters as they arrived back to Tehran who called them “the ambassadors of peace.”
The reactions were a reflection of the relief felt by many Iranians exhausted by isolation and sanctions that have been particularly punishing in the last two years.
“Most sanctions against Iran were hitting the economy. What Zarif did leads to the release of some Iranian assets. I think everything is going to get better,” one supporter told FRANCE 24.
In the crowd were the families of slain nuclear scientists, as well as lawmakers and other officials.
The people chanted: “We are thankful in the capacity of eight years, “ referring to the years of poor relations Iran had with the West under former hard-line president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Six-month hiatus on nuclear programme
Tehran agreed Sunday to a six-month hiatus of its nuclear programme while diplomats continued talks.
International observers are set to monitor Iran’s nuclear sites as the West eases about $7 billion of the economic sanctions that crippled the Islamic Republic.
Zarif told state television at the airport that the country was prepared for quick follow-up negotiations to keep the deal on track.
“We are ready to begin the final stage of nuclear agreement from tomorrow,” he said.
There has been no noticeable opposition to the deal in Tehran, though a few opposition lawmakers on Sunday sought more clarification about the deal.
Both Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters, and moderate President Hassan Rouhani supported the deal.
Illustrating the delicate dance that still looms, he and Kerry differed in their public descriptions of the part of the agreement regarding Iran’s right to enrich uranium.
Speaking on Iran’s Press TV, Zarif said the deal was an opportunity for the West to restore trust with Iran, adding Tehran would expand cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN nuclear watchdog, to address what he called "some concerns".
“In the final step, the [uranium] enrichment process will be accepted and at the same time all the sanctions will be lifted,” Zarif said.
However, on the ABC News program “This Week,” US Secretary John Kerry stressed that such a right would be limited and would come about as a result of future negotiations.
“There will be a negotiation over whether or not [Iran] could have a very limited, completely verifiable, extraordinarily constrained program, where they might have some medical research or other things they can do, but there is no inherent right to enrich... ,” Kerry said.
(FRANCE 24 with AP, REUTERS)