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Iran foreign minister says nuclear deal dead if U.S. passes new sanctions

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks to the media during a news conference following the E3/EU+3-Iran talks in Geneva Novembe
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks to the media during a news conference following the E3/EU+3-Iran talks in Geneva Novembe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said the Iranian nuclear deal would be dead if the U.S. Congress imposes new sanctions, even if they do not take effect for six months, Time Magazine said on Monday.

In a transcript of the interview, which was conducted on Saturday and posted online on Monday, Time said it asked Zarif what happens if Congress imposes new sanctions, even if they do not go into effect for six months.

According to the magazine, he replied: "The entire deal is dead." Zarif was referring to a November 24 agreement with six world powers under which Tehran would curb its nuclear program in exchange for limited relief from economic sanctions.

"We do not like to negotiate under duress," Zarif added. "If Congress adopts sanctions, it shows lack of seriousness and lack of a desire to achieve a resolution on the part of the United States.

"I know the domestic complications and various issues inside the United States, but for me that is no justification. I have a parliament. My parliament can also adopt various legislation that can go into effect if negotiations fail," he added. "But if we start doing that, I don't think that we will be getting anywhere."

The White House said last week that it opposes a fresh effort by some members of the U.S. Senate to impose new sanctions against Iran, even if the new restrictions would not take effect for months.

Some senators have been discussing the idea of imposing new sanctions on Iran that would kick in after six months or if Iran violated terms of an interim deal reached November 24 in Geneva between Iran and the six major powers: Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States.

That six-month interim deal is designed to give the two sides time to negotiate a comprehensive agreement that the United States hopes would provide reassurance that Iran's nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes and that Tehran hopes will lead to the lifting of all economic sanctions.

(Reporting By Arshad Mohammed; editing by Christopher Wilson and Cynthia Osterman)

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