TEHRAN — Iran's foreign minister accused President Barack Obama of making "unacceptable and threatening" demands during high-stakes talks on Tehran's disputed nuclear program, the semi-official Fars news agency reported Tuesday.
Obama told Reuters on Monday that Iran must agree to a verifiable halt of at least 10 years on sensitive nuclear work for a nuclear deal to be reached between Tehran and six major powers — the United States, Russia, U.K., France, China and Germany.
"Obama's words have been for the U.S. public's consumption and against the Israeli prime minister's propaganda and other hardliners who are against a nuclear deal with Iran," Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said according to Fars, an apparent reference to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's planned address to Congress later on Tuesday. "But the wording Obama used is unacceptable and threatening.
He added: "Iran will continue to negotiate but will not accept excessive and illogical demands."
Netanyahu is expected to argue against a nuclear deal with Iran at the invitation of Congressional Republicans while also refusing to meet with leading Democrats, which has raised tensions during an especially sensitive point in the negotiations.
Secretary of State John Kerry and Zarif were in the Swiss resort of Montreux trying to hammer out an agreement ahead of an end-of-March deadline.
While strolling back to his hotel, Zarif was asked by a reporter if Netanyahu's speech would impact the nuclear talks. Zarif answered: "Well, he's trying to, but I don't think trying to create tension and conflict helps anyone."
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— Ali Arouzi, Carlo Angerer and F. Brinley Bruton
Reuters contributed to this report.