Iran committed to deal with the U.S., foreign minister says

TEHRAN, Iran -- There has been another high-level contact between the United States and Iran.

Secretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif talked by phone over the weekend about the nuclear deal and about moves by the U.S. to punish companies doing business with Iran in violation of sanctions.


 Zarif also sat down with CBS News’ Elizabeth Palmer, who says that telephone conversation took place after a diplomatic scuffle on the weekend. The United States suddenly added a whole new list of companies to its sanctions  list and took Iran by surprise.


But it all seems to be smoothed over now and Iran’s foreign minister told Palmer that Iran very much wants to stay the coruse on these negotiations. Here is an excerpt from the interview:
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif: We are committed to the implementation of the plan of action that we adopted in Geneva but we believe that it takes two to tango.

CBS News' Elizabeth Palmer: Some of your bitterest opponents are right here in Iran.

Zarif:  I can tell you that we all have opponents. Secretary Kerry has his opponents, President Obama has his opponents, (Iranian) President (Hassan) Rouhani has his opponents, I have opponents. So let us try to deal with this based on logic, based on equal footing, based on mutual respect and based on our national interests.

Palmer: Are your opponents here powerful enough to blow this process up?

Zarif:  No.

But in a country where the old American Embassy is still known as the "Nest of Spies,"  Zarif's religious hard-line opponents would dearly love to see him fail.

Especially as he's willing to consider that a deal on the nuclear program could lead to somewhere much more radical.

Palmer: Would you like to see, in your lifetime, a U.S. Embassy reopening in Tehran?

Zarif: It requires many changes. It requires the United States gaining trust of the Iranian people. The Iranian people don't' trust the United States right now. But whether it's possible -- of course it's possible. Whether I like to see it, of course I like to see normalization of relations. But based on equal footing, based on mutual respect, and based on mutual interests. I believe we have a long way to go.

A long way to go but just an early start so far. The Rouhani government has only been in power about six months.

Government officials have has been able to tell the Iranian people they are in negotiations with the United States and they have some limited sanctions relief.

It’s not going to really do much -- $7 billion is a drop in the bucket for a country the size of Iran. But it has given  people some hope that they see more relief in the last year. They need to get inflation down from 40 percent to  25 percent --  a big job.

  • Elizabeth Palmer

    Elizabeth Palmer has been a CBS News correspondent since August 2000. She has been based in London since late 2003, after having been based in Moscow (2000-03). Palmer reports primarily for the "CBS Evening News."