TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday dismissed pressure from the U.S. Congress over a preliminary deal on the Islamic Republic's contested nuclear program, saying that Tehran is dealing with world powers — not American lawmakers.
In a speech to tens of thousands of Iranians in the northern city of Rasht, Rouhani said his nation is pursuing a "dignified" agreement with the six-member group, which includes the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.
Rouhani's remarks were an apparent reaction to developments Tuesday in Washington, where President Barack Obama bowed to pressure from Republicans and Democrats and agreed to sign compromise legislation empowering Congress to reject a final nuclear deal with Iran. The legislation is now expected to sail through both houses of Congress but it is unclear how it will affect the ongoing nuclear talks with Iran.
Tehran and world powers reached a framework agreement on the deal earlier this month. The deal, which is to be finalized by June 30, is meant to curb Iran's nuclear program in return for lifting of crippling economic sanctions imposed on Iran.
The disputes between the Obama administration and the Congress are an "internal issue," Rouhani said.
"Our partner is not the U.S. Congress or the Senate, our partner is a group called '5+1,'" Rouhani said, referring to the six world powers — the five permanent U.N. Security Council members and Germany.
"It has absolutely nothing to do with our government and nation what ... U.S. representatives or hard-liners say. ... We are looking for reciprocal ... good will and respect," he said.
Rouhani reiterated his stance expressed last week that Tehran will not sign on to any final deal unless all economic sanctions are completely lifted.
"If there is no end to sanctions, there will be no deal," Rouhani said.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iran will hold the U.S. administration, not the U.S. Congress, responsible for implementing a future deal.
"As a point of principle, we hold the government of the United States responsible for implementing its international obligations," Zarif said during an official visit to Lisbon, Portugal, on Wednesday. "We will hold the U.S. government, the U.S. president accountable."
Also Wednesday, U.N. nuclear inspectors arrived in Iran to investigate suspicions that Tehran worked on nuclear weapons, a charge the Islamic Republic denies.
The official IRNA news agency quoted Iranian nuclear spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi as saying that inspectors from the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency would discuss with Iranian officials "unresolved issues" surrounding a military site in Marivan, in western Iran.
A 2011 IAEA report indicated that large-scale high-explosive experiments were conducted in Marivan, near the Iraqi border.
Talks with the IAEA are parallel to Iran's nuclear negotiations with world powers. Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, such as power generation and cancer treatment.
Associated Press writer Barry Hatton in Lisbon, Portugal, contributed to this report.