VIENNA, Austria - An historic accord between six world powers and Iran on its nuclear program was reached, and the Islamic Republic believes it's a diplomatic win for everyone, the Iranian foreign minister said Tuesday.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif spent most of the last three weeks in Vienna with his counterparts trying to hammer out the details of the deal. In an interview with CBS News correspondent Margaret Brennan, he said it was worth it.
"We have been able to start resolving an issue that was seen by a good number of people as a source of tension in our region and I think it's an important achievement for all concerned that we now have a way to resolve this," Zarif said. "It's a good testimony to the fact that dialogue and engagement and respect work much better than coercion. I said a year ago, you've tired coercion for 30 years, try respect."
The deal is about more than differences between the U.S. and Iran, Zarif said, noting that there were five other countries involved in the negotiations. Challenges of extremism, sectarianism and the like plague all the countries that were involved in the negotiations, which also included Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, he said.
"We need to build on this in order to deal with these challenges in a manner that shows foresight and serious desire and readiness to address issues rather than simply political constituencies," the Iranian foreign minister said.
Part of the deal will be an unfreezing of about $100 billion worth of assets belonging to Iran. Zarif said his country has been preparing for it.
"We have a huge development agenda that we want to pursue," he said. "We want to improve the living conditions of our people. We want to continue to build our economy, continue to build out infrastructure."
He said even with severe sanctions in place, Iran managed to "turn the economy" out of its malaise.
Some in the U.S. Congress have expressed concern Iran will use the money to fund militias and destabilize the Mideast, a concern Zarif brushed aside.
"Well, Iran is at first for stability in the Middle East," he said. "Iran has been the only serious force against ISIS, we have been fighting ISIS everywhere in the Middle East as the only capable force of dealing with that."
Later, Zarif added: "Of course we need to maintain our defense capabilities and we will maintain our defense capabilities, but our defense capabilities have always been defensive. It is important for people to remember that in the past 250 years, Iran has not invaded any country."
The foreign minister said there has been a lot of "disinformation" spread about Iran and its actions and intentions recently.
"I believe we had an unnecessary crisis that simply created a smoke screen upon which ISIS could find its foothold in our region and could spread in our region, and now presents us with an existential threat, presents everybody in the region and beyond the region with an existential threat. And now that's smoke screen is set aside and now we can deal with the real issues rather than deal with made-up issues or fabricated crises," he said.
One of the sticking points in the negotiations has been giving weapons inspectors access to military sites. Zarif said there were no nefarious intentions in his country's reluctance to do so.
"All countries have military secrets and they want to preserve their military secrets and that is what we were assured and that is what we agreed to," he said. "There are international mechanisms, there are international procedures, and Iran is going to be working with an internationally agreed upon mechanism for transparency and we will live up to our obligation and our commitments as we have always."
In a separate interview, Secretary of State John Kerry told Brennan he was not sure how Iran's behavior will change as a result of the accord. Zarif responded to the statement by saying he could say the same thing about the U.S.
"I want to take one step at a time," he said. "We will see whether this nuclear deal will be able to put a dent on the wall of mistrust that exists between Iran and the West, and Iran and the United States."