Iran: Nope, We Never Said We'd 'Dismantle' Our Nuclear Program

Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, has one way to the describe the nuclear agreement that he says is being mischaracterized by the White House: What dismantlement?

Zarif sat down with CNN Chief National Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto in Davos today for the telling interview:

"The White House version both underplays the concessions and overplays Iranian commitments" under the agreement that took effect Monday, Zarif said in Davos, Switzerland, where he was attending the World Economic Forum.

As part of the deal, Iran was required to dilute its stockpile of uranium that had been enriched to 20%, well above the 5% level needed for power generation but still below the level for developing a nuclear weapon.

In addition, the deal mandated that Iran halt all enrichment above 5% and "dismantle the technical connections required to enrich above 5%," according to a White House fact sheet issued in November after the initial agreement was reached.

Zarif accused the Obama administration of creating a false impression with such language.

"The White House tries to portray it as basically a dismantling of Iran's nuclear program. That is the word they use time and again," he said, urging Sciutto to read the actual text of the agreement. "If you find a single, a single word, that even closely resembles dismantling or could be defined as dismantling in the entire text, then I would take back my comment."

According to the semi-official Fars News Agency, the agreement "underlined that the six world powers have recognized Iran’s enrichment program." The White House has denied it recognized a right to enrich uranium.

Fars characterized Iran's involvement as a "confidence-building bid to limit certain aspects of its nuclear activities" in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.