Iran's Supreme Leader lashed out at the United States on Sunday, accusing Washington of inventing the "myth" of Tehran's nuclear weapons threat. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also urged "defensive preparedness" for Iranian armed forces after a top U.S. general warned last week about military action against Tehran's nuclear sites.
Saturday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif dismissed remarks by U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman General Martin Dempsey, who Thursday said "the military option ... to ensure that Iran does not achieve a nuclear weapon is intact."
Zarif wrote off the general's statement as an "old habit that dies hard."
Diplomats from both countries are building on a framework nuclear deal that paves the way to ease economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for limitations on Tehran's nuclear development.
Iranian officials claim the country's nuclear program is civilian in nature. Opponents of the deal fear any allowances will allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons.
Iranian military commanders
Obama calls for 'creative negotiations'
President Barack Obama on Friday called for U.S. officials to use "creative negotiations" to reach an agreement with Iran.
"How sanctions are lessened, how we snap back sanctions if there's a violation, there are a lot of different mechanisms and ways to do that," Mr. Obama said at a White House news conferencne with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
Obama said negotiators need to find a way to address concerns while allowing Iran to "make a presentation to their body politic that is more acceptable."
Too many concessions
U.S. Senator Bob Corker, who heads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a CNN interview Sunday he believes too much has been conceded to Tehran in early negotiations.
The lawmaker has proposed a bill that would give Congress more oversight of the deal. He wants the legislature to review the agreement and its supporting documents in detail before the agreement can move forward.
"Right now, the leadership in Iran is telling their citizens one thing. Our President is telling us another," Corker said.
Negotiators from Iran and a group of world powers hold their next round of talks this next week in Vienna as they try to reach a final agreement by their self-imposed June 30 deadline. The talks involve Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany.
Some information for this material came from AP, AFP and Reuters.
"Yukiya Amano, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, has confirmed the peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear program."
(cartoon by Taher Shabani, Arman daily)
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