Iran rejects Obama's claim that sanctions halted nuclear program

Iran’s foreign ministry on Thursday rejected President Obama’s remarks about Iran’s nuclear program in the State of the Union speech. 

Obama said in his address on Tuesday that the interim deal halting the progress of Iran’s nuclear program was the result of sanctions. 

"American diplomacy, backed by pressure, has halted the progress of Iran's nuclear program and rolled parts of that program back," Obama said. "The sanctions that we put in place helped make this opportunity possible."

That’s a “totally wrong interpretation,” said Marzieh Afkham, a spokeswoman for Iran’s foreign ministry, according to reports.

"The delusion of sanctions having an effect on Iran's motivation for nuclear negotiations is based on a false narration of history," she was quoted as saying by Iran’s state broadcaster IRIB.

Akfham said Iran has never wanted to produce a nuclear weapon.

“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 and will never do so in future."

The six-month interim deal reached with Iran in November took effect last week. 

The United States should add to the deal its commitment to ease sanctions against Iran, Afkham said. 

She also corrected Obama’s description of Hezbollah, a militant group in Lebanon, the Associated Press reports

While Obama called the group a “terrorist organization, which threatens our allies,” in his address, Afkham described Hezbollah as a “popular group.”