Foreign Policy Geared to Economic Upliftment

The government believes that foreign policy must be at the service of national development goals instead of being a burden
Mohammad Javad ZarifMohammad Javad Zarif

The foreign minister says the tone and tenacity of the diplomatic apparatus on his watch have been adjusted to help improve the national economy and development while safeguarding national interests.

"The government has decided that the foreign policy must be at the service of the country's development instead of imposing a burden on it," Mohammad Javad Zarif said.   

Iran's foreign policy under the previous administration did not have a significant international presence and a meaningful role in the development of the national economy, he noted.

"To change this atmosphere, the government put effective engagement in [nuclear] negotiations at the top of its agenda."

Negotiations with major powers, aimed at finding a settlement to the 12-year dispute over the nuclear program, lasted about two years and culminated in a landmark accord on July 14, 2015.

It scaled back Iran's nuclear work in return for lifting international sanctions.

"It must be noted that the negotiations were not mainly intended to get sanctions relief, rather they were meant to defend our national honor and technical capabilities and secure the rescinding of the UN Security Council resolutions, which did not involve any economic sanctions," Zarif said in a recent interview with the state newspaper 'Iran'.

Domestic critics of the nuclear deal and President Hassan Rouhani's political opponents, who claim he has failed to deliver on his electoral promise to improve the ailing economy, oppose his government's strenuous efforts to revive foreign trade through deals with western countries.  

The opposition camp fear the opening to the West might expose the country to its "corrupting influence".

***Politics at Play

Zarif said the outcome of the parliamentary vote earlier this year shortly after the nuclear deal came into effect and the approaching 2017 presidential election partly explain why criticism from the rival conservatives has moved to a higher level.

In the legislative polls, a coalition of Rouhani's moderate supporters and reformists grabbed all the 30 seats representing Tehran, the constituency believed to wield the most influence in the 290-member chamber.

They also made smaller gains in other constituencies to end a three-term conservative hold on the legislature.

While reiterating that the government is open to constructive criticism in line with national interests, Zarif lamented that part of the criticisms is fueling a smear campaign led by those who view Rouhani's reform plans as a threat to their vested interests.

"A fact that we mentioned in our recent report to the Majlis is that for some people the JCPOA means a blow to their interests… and who attempt to undermine it by inflating public expectation of economic benefits from the deal."

He was referring to the accord by its formal title, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.