Iranian President: We will stick to our promises on nuclear deal

Willie Grace | 4/3/2015, 1:40 p.m.
Rouhani said his government kept its word to Iranians when negotiating the deal, which was agreed upon Thursday and sets ...
Two Western diplomats told CNN Thursday that the parties are narrowing in on 6,000 centrifuges, down from the 6,500 that had been under discussion.

(CNN) -- Iran's President on Friday hailed the proposed international deal on his country's nuclear program, vowing that Iran will stick to its promises and -- assuming other countries live up to their end of the bargain -- become a more active, engaged player in world affairs.

"Some think that we should either fight ... or we should surrender to other powers," President Hassan Rouhani said. "However, we believe none of that. There is a third path. We can cooperate with the world."

Rouhani said his government kept its word to Iranians when negotiating the deal, which was agreed upon Thursday and sets parameters for talks that could lead to a comprehensive deal by a June 30 deadline. Chief among them is that Iran would keep at least some centrifuges and no longer face international sanctions.

He thanked Iranians for their patience and for "resisting" by standing up for the country's rights.

As to the rest of the world, the Iranian President said he thinks most now realize that Iran "is pursuing peaceful objectives." That means trying to develop nuclear energy, not nuclear weapons, as many feared. That fear, combined with distrust of Iran's leaders, spurred the sanctions and the Middle Eastern nation's isolation.

"We do not lie," Rouhani said, vowing that Iran will be true to its word, "provided the other parties will implement their own promises."

The President said he hoped a deal would open up Iran to the rest of world, including its longstanding adversaries.

"We do shake hands with them. ... Even those countries we have tensions with, we would like an end to the animosity," he said. "Cooperation and interaction would be in the interest of everyone."

Netanyahu: Deal 'paves Iran's path to the bomb'

Not everyone in the world, though, is ready to cooperate with Iran.

The loudest among them is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who on Friday denounced a proposed nuclear deal that he claims will leave Iran able to build nuclear bombs "in a few years" and threaten Israel's existence.

"Such a deal does not block Iran's path to the bomb. Such a deal paves Iran's path to the bomb," he said.

Netanyahu's comments came a day after six world powers led by the United States announced a framework deal with Iran meant to limit its nuclear program.

Iran would reduce its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98% and significantly scale back its number of installed centrifuges, according to the plan. In exchange, the United States and the European Union would lift sanctions that have crippled the country's economy.

Netanyahu said his Cabinet met Friday and strongly opposed the plan.

"The deal would not shut down a single nuclear facility in Iran, would not destroy a single centrifuge in Iran and will not stop R&D (research and development) on Iran's advanced centrifuges.

"On the contrary, the deal would legitimize Iran's illegal nuclear program. It would leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure."

In a "few years," Netanyahu said, "the deal would remove restrictions on Iran's nuclear program, enabling Iran to have a massive enrichment capacity that it could use to produce many nuclear bombs within a matter of months."

As part of the proposed deal, Iran's centrifuges would enrich uranium to only 3.67% -- enough for civil use to power parts of the country, but not enough to build a nuclear bomb. That agreement would last 15 years.

"This deal would pose a grave danger to the region and to the world and would threaten the very survival of the state of Israel," Netanyahu said.

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