Iran’s Foreign Minister Seeks Shift Away From Era of Sanctions

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said he welcomes his country’s shift away from the diplomatic isolation and the sanctions weighing on his country’s economy.

Zarif said initial diplomatic discussions about Iran’s nuclear-fuel production marked a “good beginning.”

“Nobody has benefitted from this pattern of relations that we’ve had over the last eight years,” he said, according to a transcript of his interview with CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” scheduled to air tomorrow.

“There is need for change. And I hope that everybody realizes that we need to change that process, put an end to something that was a lose-lose situation and hopefully begin something that will be to the benefit of everyone.”

The comments reflect the thaw in Iran’s relations with the international community under President Hassan Rouhani, who took office in August pledging to improve the country’s world standing and an economy hurt by sanctions imposed because of the country’s pursuit of nuclear technology.

“We have very serious sanctions that are hurting the Iranian people,” Zarif said on CNN. Iran’s inflation rate is almost 40 percent, economy minister Ali Tayyeb-Nia said today, according to state television.

Rouhani spoke by phone with U.S. President Barack Obama during the trip to the United Nations last month, in the highest-level diplomatic encounter between the two countries since Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution. Rouhani has criticized the confrontational approach of his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who had held the office since 2005.

Zarif met last month with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and counterparts from five other world powers and proposed a goal of reaching an agreement over its nuclear program within a year.

Crude Oil Output

Iran’s crude oil output, once second to Saudi Arabia’s among the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, has fallen to its lowest since 1990 under U.S. and European sanctions. The International Energy Agency said Oct. 2 that U.S.-Iranian talks are “very important” for oil markets.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Iran is six months away from having the capability to produce a nuclear weapon. Obama said in an interview with the Associated Press published today that the U.S. considers such a step about a year or more away, though he understands Netanyahu’s skepticism of Iran’s overtures given the history of hostility between the two countries.

In his interview with CNN, Zarif said Iran has been enriching uranium in order to create fuel for nuclear power plants, and said Israel has for decades been saying that Iran is on the verge of obtaining a nuclear bomb.

“We don’t have a bomb because we don’t see it in our interests,” he said. Alternative energy sources are now a “major policy option that, both from an environmental perspective, as well as from sustainable development perspective, is being suggested and promoted at the international level,” he said.

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