By Martin Matishak - 07/12/14 03:58 PM EDT
A senior Iranian government official has said Tehran has no interest in building a nuclear weapons program because it would have a dramatic impact on the Middle East.
International envoys are bunkered down in Vienna trying to negotiate a deal that would curb Iran’s nascent nuclear program by a self-imposed July 20 deadline. Iran claims its atomic effort is for peaceful energy purposes, but the international community says Tehran is trying to obtain its own nuclear warhead.
When pressed by host David Gregory on why Iran wouldn’t want a nuclear deterrent in order to exert more control over the region, Zarif said Gregory’s “calculations are wrong.”
“In fact we need to go out of our way in order to convince our neighbors that we want to live in peace and tranquility with them” because, among other things, Iran is geographically bigger and has a larger population than many of its neighbors, according to Zarif.
“That is why nobody considers our neighbors in Pakistan as a stronger force in the region than Iran, simply because they have nuclear weapons. In fact, I believe nuclear weapons reduces countries' influence in our region. It doesn't help anybody”
He argued that the U.S. and other nuclear weapons states having “the possibility of destroying each other 100 times over is simply mad” and that possessing an atomic stockpile has not made such countries any safer.