Iran denies seeking lifted nuclear sanctions in return for support against IS
Iran has denied a report that it is ready to help counter Islamic State insurgents in return for progress in negotiations with world powers over its nuclear programme.
France, one of the six nations in nuclear talks with Tehran, said it wanted Arab states, Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council to co-ordinate a comprehensive response against Islamic State, whose militant forces control large parts of Syria and Iraq. The Sunni Islamist insurgency threatening to tear Iraq apart has alarmed both Shi’ite Iran and the US, which have had no diplomatic relations since soon after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
A story from the official Iranian News Agency (IRNA) cited by several news organisations reported Foreign Minister Javad Zarif as saying that if Iran agreed to “do something in Iraq, the other side in the negotiations will need to do something in return”. “All the sanctions imposed on Iran over its nuclear activities should be lifted in return for its help in Iraq,” it quoted him as saying.
IRNA later reported Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham as dismissing the reports, which she called “totally baseless”. Iran has offered to co-operate with the US on stabilising Iraq, which like Iran has a majority Shia population, but Washington has responded cautiously. Western officials have repeatedly said they do not want to mix the nuclear dossier with events elsewhere in the region. In Washington, State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said she understood that Zarif’s comments did not refer to Iraq and instead referred to Arak, the site of a facility that is one of the topics under discussion in nuclear negotiations between Tehran and six world powers.