London: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his supporters are trying to create "an atmosphere of hysteria" and "fear-mongering," the Iranian foreign minister has said.
"The only explanation that you can have here is that some people consider peace and stability as an existential threat," Javad Zarif told CNN on Thursday.
"Because a deal cannot be threatening to anybody unless you want conflict and tension and mistrust and crises."
In a highly controversial speech to the US Congress on Tuesday, Netanyahu said that far from stopping Iran, the deal currently being negotiated in Switzerland would pave Iran's way to nuclear weapons.
Zarif said that Netanyahu's speech had "no effect on the negotiating table."
He spoke from Montreux, Switzerland, where Iran, the US and five other countries are trying to hammer out an agreement that would trade sanctions relief for guarantees on Iran's nuclear programme.
Zarif said that he believed negotiators were "very close" to such a deal, but only if everybody avoided "the path of confrontation."
"Everybody has to make tough choices. We have made the choice to engage in negotiations, although we believe that this entire exercise was unnecessary -- this was a manufactured crisis."
"People have been predicting for the past 20 years that Iran was a year away from making a bomb, and that prediction has been proven wrong time and again," Zarif said.
"But unfortunately that is a reality, that this hysteria that has been fanned continues to be fanned. And we try to resolve that problem."
While the details of a definitive deal are still decidedly out of reach -- "I'm not prepared to negotiate on the air" -- Zarif said that he had hope for a "win-win situation for all."
"The object of this exercise is to ensure that Iran's nuclear programme would always remain peaceful, and to remove all the restrictions that have been imposed on Iran, in our view unjustifiably," he said.
"You can either have sanctions and continue to seek that path of confrontation, or try to resolve this issue through negotiations and through an agreement."