Iran shares nuclear report with Iraq
AP photoIranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said July 27 that he had presented a report on this month’s landmark deal on Iran’s nuclear energy program to Iranian-born Shiite leader Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in southern Iraq.
At a joint press conference held in Iraq, where Zarif is currently on a days-long visit, the Iranian minister said his report to al-Sistani covered “the progress of ongoing negotiations [over as-yet-unresolved issues], as well as the challenges” that Iran continues to face.
Al-Sistani, for his part, told reporters that international cooperation was still necessary “to counter terrorism and extremism,” in reference to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militant group, which remains in control of large parts of Iraq and Syria.
On July 26, Zarif arrived in Iraq’s southern city of Najaf – where al-Sistani is based – for an official visit during which he will also meet his Iraqi counterpart and the Iraqi prime minister in Baghdad.
On July 14, Iran and the P5+1 group of nations signed a final agreement in Vienna ending nearly two years of talks. The deal calls for an end to longstanding international sanctions on the Islamic republic in return for curbs on and inspections of its nuclear energy program.
Iran’s top diplomat has begun a three-nation regional tour aimed at deepening ties with Arab neighbors following the conclusion of the Islamic republic’s historic nuclear deal with world powers.
Saudi Arabia and other Sunni-ruled Arab states lining the Persian Gulf harbor deep suspicions about Iran’s intentions in the region.
While the Western-allied Arab countries are cautiously hopeful the nuclear deal will reduce the chances Iran will acquire an atomic bomb, they also fear an easing of international pressure will embolden the Shiite powerhouse at a time of heightened sectarian tensions in the region.
Zarif began his trip with a stop in Kuwait, where he received a red carpet airport greeting from his Kuwaiti counterpart, Sheikh Sabah Khaled al-Hamad al-Sabah. He later held talks with the ruling emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah, who paid his first visit as head of state to Iran last year.
Zarif’s trip includes a stop in Qatar also.