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TEHRAN, Iran — Iran moved quickly to criticize and dismiss Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's address to Congress aimed at scuppering a nuclear deal with Tehran.
Not only were Netanyahu’s comments "boring and repetitive," the speech was a "deceitful show and part of the hardliners' political propaganda in Tel Aviv," Marziyeh Afkham, a spokeswoman for Iran's foreign ministry, said Tuesday soon after the speech ended.
English-language daily Tehran Times declared in an article that its writers weren’t surprised by Netanyahu’s address, but they were offended that Congress supported a “criminal with blood on his hands.”
According to hard-line daily Kayhan, "Netanyahu's .... speech uncovered the battle between America and Israel, and embarrassed the American negotiating team in Switzerland.”
Netanyahu’s comments may indeed have complicated Secretary of State John Kerry job as he met with Iranian officials to try to agree a deal that would ensure Tehran does not develop nuclear weapons. On Wednesday, the negotiating teams announced that they had ended three days of talks without an agreement.
But later on Wednesday, in an exclusive NBC News interview, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told Ann Curry that the teams were "very close" to a political agreement, although there were still details that needed to be worked out.
"We are very close, very close and we could be very far, but we are very close if the political decision can be made to get to yes as President Obama said," he said. "But that political decision needs to be made by everybody, not just by one country and everybody should avoid imposing undue pressure in order to prevent a political decision to be made by all to reach an agreement."
The eventual deal will require the U.S. overrule opposition to a deal from close U.S. allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia, which suspect Iran is trying to develop a nuclear weapons capabilities, a charge Tehran denies.
Many in Iran fear that the United States will eventually bow to Israeli wishes and either back out of a deal or renege on one once its signed.
"Flattering Zionists is an obligation" for the U.S. government, according to a tweet by the country’s most powerful man, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Iranian officials have good reason to ask how copper-bottomed any deal with the so-called P5+1 — the U.S., France, U.K., Russia, China and Germany — can be given the deep opposition to it in the U.S. Distrust of Iran runs deep in the GOP-controlled Congress, a fact underlined by House Speaker John Boehner's controversial invitation to Netanyahu to speak.
Already deeply distrustful of the United Sates, many in Iran clearly fear that the next president, whether they be Republican or Democrat, will renege on an agreement.
"I am not against the nuclear talks," Khamenei told a crowd outside his residence in Tehran on January 7, but Iran "cannot trust an enemy like America."
— Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.