Trump Threw Out Huge Progress

Trump Threw Out Huge Progress
Trump Threw Out Huge Progress

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif criticized the current US administration policy toward the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, saying President Donald Trump’s offer for talks with Iran after abandoning the nuclear deal was tantamount to gross disregard for years of diplomatic efforts.

In an exclusive interview with CNN which was released on Monday, Zarif said he believed a one-on-one meeting between the two nations’ presidents, as suggested by Trump, would not be beneficial at the present juncture.

“Not when the previous huge progress that we made was thrown out,” he said, adding, “That [previous deal] was for us the litmus test of whether we can trust the United States or not.”

“We spent a lot of time” he said, of the years long, intense and detailed negotiations that he and then-US secretary of state John Kerry led.

“It was not an easy political decision for the Iranian government and for me personally and for President Rouhani. It may be a credit for some foreign ministers to spend hours upon hours with the US secretary of state but it’s certainly not a credit in Iran.”

Asked if a lasting pact would ever be possible with the man who wrote about the “art of the deal”?, Zarif said,  “It depends on President Trump -- whether he wants to make us believe that he is a reliable partner,” he said. “Now if we spend time with him and he signs another agreement. ... How long will it last? Until the end of his administration? Until he departs from the place where he put his signature on the agreement?”

In May, Trump pulled the United States out of the multilateral deal, formally known as JCPOA, concluded before he took office, denouncing it as one-sided in Iran’s favor and later reinstated US sanctions against Iran. In July, he said that he would be willing to meet President Hassan Rouhani without preconditions to discuss how to improve relations.

Some US sanctions took effect on August 6, and the rest, most notably on the petroleum sector, will be enforced in November.    

  Addicted to Sanctions

Zarif expressed dismay that the US had failed to learn the lesson that sanctions are ineffective as far as Iran is concerned.

“We felt that the US had learned that at least as far as Iran is concerned, sanctions do produce economic hardship but do not produce the political outcomes that they intended them to produce. I thought that the Americans had learned that lesson. Unfortunately, I was wrong,” Zarif told CNN.

“I believe there is a disease in the United States and that is the addiction to sanctions,” he said, adding that, “Even during the Obama administration the US put more emphasis on keeping the sanctions it had not lifted rather than implementing its obligation on the sanctions it lifted.”

Zarif retained a clear belief during the hour-long interview at Foreign Ministry in downtown Tehran that the 2015 nuclear deal could be revived regardless of the Trump administration tearing it up.

Zarif on Sunday tweeted criticism of the US State Department bid to create the “Iran Action Group” to coordinate the US and its allies pressure on Iran. He wrote, “Now an action group dreams of doing the same through pressure misinformation and demagoguery -- never again.”

He told CNN that the same ‘1950s thinking embodies the current US approach. “I think the US administration still believes that it is working with the government it installed in Iran after the 1953 coup,” he said. “As they say, they have to wake up and smell the coffee.”

  Nuclear Deal Can Be Revived

For much of the interview, Zarif dismissed the possibility of future talks with the Trump administration, and maintained the hope the deal can be revived. He said pressure from the European allies could persuade Trump to change his mind and accused the US of “bullying” the European signatories to the deal.

“We do not want to revisit that nuclear deal,” he said. “We want the United States to implement that nuclear deal. Today the closest US allies are resisting those sanctions. The US basically arm-twisting -- its attempt to put pressure. I don’t want to use the term bullying ... (but) that’s what it amounts to.”

Asked about US sanctions, Zarif said, “US sanctions have always hurt. What it’s hurting, though, is people who want to buy medicine. People who want to buy food.”

“The economic upheaval that you see right now in Iran is because of the measures that needed to be taken to be prepared for those days, so we are prepared for the worst case scenario,” the minister said.


Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints