ANKARA (Reuters) - Iran said on Thursday the United States should seize the opportunity created by a nuclear deal reached between the country and six major powers to change what it called a foreign policy of “threats of coercion”.
“The use of threats of coercion as a foreign policy will give no other result than damaging America’s reputation and wasting American resources,” state news agency IRNA quoted Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as saying in reaction to remarks by U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday.
Iran and the six major powers reached a deal on July 14 after over 18 months of negotiations aimed at curbing the Islamic republic’s nuclear program in return for lifting economic sanctions imposed on Tehran.
Defending the deal with Iran against criticism from political opponents and Israel, Obama said: “alternatives to military actions will have been exhausted once we reject a hard-won diplomatic solution that the world almost unanimously supports.”
U.S. Congress has until Sept. 17 to vote on the deal. If it passes and survives a presidential veto, a resolution rejecting it would cripple the agreement by eliminating Obama’s ability to waive many sanctions.
Obama said blocking the deal would accelerate Tehran’s path to a nuclear bomb and severely damage America’s credibility.
Iran has always denied accusations its nuclear program went beyond energy projects and medical research and could yield nuclear weapons.
“It would be best to use this historic opportunity to win the valuable trust of the Iranian nation,” Zarif said.
He said Iran would not change its policies in the Middle East because of the nuclear deal, echoing comments made by Iran’s top authorities, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran will continue its support to its friends and regional allies against common threats and has repeatedly announced its readiness to cooperate ... for establishment of peace in the region and the world,” Zarif said.
Iran’s regional Sunni rival Saudi Arabia and several other Gulf Arab countries have long accused Shi‘ite power Iran of interference, alleging financial or armed support for political movements in countries including Bahrain, Yemen and Lebanon.
Iran denies interference but has pledged support for the Syrian and Iraqi governments, which are both fighting insurgencies by Sunni armed groups.
Writing by Parisa Hafezi; editing by Ralph Boulton