Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has said it will be easy to reach a comprehensive deal with the west on his country's nuclear programme.

Mr Zarif made the upbeat comment in an interview with RTÉ News in Tehran.

It has now been announced that the terms of an interim nuclear deal, negotiated last year in Geneva, will become operational on 20 January.

Mr Zarif, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, says he is optimistic that a full and final agreement can be negotiated with the west.

He unequivocally asserted to RTÉ that Iran does not seek nuclear weapons.

However, suspicion remains in some circles that Iran’s nuclear power programme is a cover to secure a nuclear weapons capacity.

The commencement of the interim deal next Monday will see some sanctions on Iran lifted in return for a significant reduction of its nuclear programme.

The date also signals the beginning of a six-month deadline for talks on a comprehensive deal to be completed.

Mr Zarif warned that the two sides "do not have all the time in the world", claiming what he termed "opponents of engagement" in the United States and elsewhere would try to scupper the plan.