TEHRAN (Press Shia) – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif dismissed as baseless recent claims that the Obama administration granted citizenship to 2,500 Iranians during the negotiations that led to the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

In comments released on Saturday, Zarif rejected media reports that the US gave green cards to 2500 Iranians, saying the issue is “bascially a lie”.

“Such issues have never been raised in (the nuclear) negotiations or on its sidelines or in any other way, not even a legitimate request like the abolition of restrictions on Iranian diplomats working at the United Nations,” the Iranian top diplomat said.

The remarks came a few days after US President Donald Trump, in a tweet, said, “Just out that the Obama Administration granted citizenship, during the terrible Iran Deal negotiation, to 2,500 Iranians – including to government officials. How big (and bad) is that?”

Trump’s claim appears to have originated with Mojtaba Zonnour, a hardline cleric and member of Iran’s parliament who has criticized the JCPOA and President Hassan Rouhani for striking the deal.

In an interview to the Iranian newspaper Etemad in June, Zonnour said, “Obama gave citizenship to 2500 Iranians; some officials had competed for the citizenship of their children.”

Zonnour claimed “the Obama administration granted citizenship to 2,500 Iranians, including family members of government officials, while negotiating the Iran nuclear deal”.

He added that “it was done as a favor to senior Iranian officials linked to President Hassan Rouhani,” according to a Fox News report published July 2, the day before Trump’s tweet.

Trump has long deplored the JCPOA but this is a new line of criticism, coming nearly two months after he announced that the United States was withdrawing from the deal.

On May 8, the US president pulled his country out of the JCPOA, which was achieved in Vienna in 2015 after years of negotiations among Iran and the Group 5+1 (Russia, China, the US, Britain, France and Germany).

Following the US exit, Iran and the remaining parties launched talks to save the accord.

Meanwhile, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei has underlined that any decision to keep the JCPOA running without the US should be conditional on “practical guarantees” from the Europeans.