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Tehran Rejects Obama's Claim Sanctions Forced Nuclear Talks

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham
Iran says U.S. President Barack Obama's comments in his State of the Union speech -- in which he said sanctions had forced Tehran to the negotiating table on its nuclear program -- were "unrealistic and "unconstructive."

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said "the delusion" of sanctions having an impact on Iran's motivation is based on as a false narration of history.

"America considers preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon to be its biggest achievement, but it is wrong since Iran has never sought to obtain a nuclear weapon," Afkham said.

In his January 28 address, Obama said sanctions pressure brought about an interim deal with Iran in November under which Tehran has pledged to scale back sensitive nuclear work in exchange for limited sanctions relief.

Iranian officials deny that economic sanctions forced them to negotiate.

IAEA: Time To Tackle 'More Difficult' Issues

The head of the UN's atomic watchdog says that, after recent progress with Iran, it is time to tackle "more difficult" nuclear issues, such as allegations of past weapons work.

In an interview with the French news agency AFP, Yukiya Amano, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it hopes to include issues with "possible military dimensions" in future steps.

The November deal on improved oversight over Tehran's nuclear program includes six steps, such as this week's visit by IAEA inspectors to the Gachin uranium mine and to a new reactor plant at Arak in December.

But the deal makes no mention of allegations that prior to 2003 -- and possibly since -- Iran's nuclear work had what the IAEA calls "possible military dimensions."

Iran says the allegations are based on faulty intelligence.

Based on reporting by ISNA, IRIB, and AFP