In interview with Politico Magazine;

Iran FM rejects re-negotiation of nuclear deal

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - Iranian foreign minister rejected revision of Iran nuclear deal, noting that it's not broken, so let's not fix it.

'We’ve got to put aside the nuclear deal. This is an achievement. The global community believes it’s an achievement. It’s not broken, so let’s not fix it, because when you try to fix something that’s not broken, then that would be the beginning of the problem,' Mohammad Javad Zarif said in an exclusive interview with Politico Magazine on the sideline of 72nd UN General Assembly which was released by the American journal on Monday.

Elaborating the world stance on the deal, Zarif said that 'I believe the international community has underscored the value of this deal. I was with the president of the General Assembly yesterday, and he told me that there are six items that almost everybody spoke about during the General Assembly, and one of those six items was Iran nuclear deal, and almost everybody, with obvious two exceptions, supported the deal and underlined the need for everybody to respect that deal. '

Zarif said that Iran nuclear deal is not perfect… but what was important when we started negotiating this deal was that we agreed to a common objective and that common objective that Iran should have a nuclear program that would remain exclusively peaceful'.

'The significance of that common objective was that we abandon the posturing of the previous 10 years. In the previous 10 years there were two seemingly diametrically opposed objectives,' he added.

Zarif said, 'We’re back to posturing,' noting that the posturing didn’t help us get anywhere. You see, the United States has imposed all the sanctions that are available to it. I don’t think there is anything left in the books that the US could impose on Iran, but it didn’t produce the intended consequences'.

Elaborating the results of the US sanctions on Iran, he said, 'When the United States started imposing the sanctions, Iran had less than 200 centrifuges. When the United States came to the negotiating table in 2013, Iran had 20,000 centrifuges. And it imposed sanctions without limitation. Didn’t get anywhere.'

He elaborated on the results of nuclear deal and said, 'The implementation by the United States has been lackluster, to say the best. At least we all know that the deal is working, and that is what every member of Group 5+1 with one exception said in the ministerial meeting that we had in the Security Council.'

Zarif referred to US President Donald Trump speech in the UN General Assembly and said, 'The statement was so negative, as you pointed out, and as I stressed. This was the most insulting statement that had ever been made by any US president against Iran since the revolution, certainly one of the worst and most negative statements ever made against Iran in the General Assembly by anybody. '

'This deal has been the subject of thorough negotiations for two years; you cannot renegotiate just one aspect of the deal that one party doesn’t like because there are aspects of the deal that other parties don’t like. And probably if you look at the deal in every paragraph there is something that one of the seven or eight parties has difficulty with or has a preference for another wording or another even approach. So it is just meaningless. And it proves that the US is not a reliable negotiating partner for it to negotiate at length a set of gives and takes. It wasn’t one concession, but there were sets of concessions by each side,' he added.

Zarif noted that 'what was very disappointing for everybody was how he characterized the validity of the deal. Not only he neglected the fact that this deal was not a bilateral treaty that would require congressional ratification; it wasn’t a multilateral treaty that would require congressional ratification. It was instead a Security Council resolution, and it would be rather ridiculous for the United States, which is a permanent member of the Security Council, to question the validity of a resolution that it itself produced, itself presented as a cosponsor, to the Security Council, and voted upon, and it was approved unanimously.'

He added, 'I think it would make it tougher for anybody to believe and rely upon the United States—anybody, not just North Korea. You’ve seen US allies saying that the United States is not a reliable partner.'

Explaining the EU support for Iran nuclear issue, Zarif said, 'That's a public statement that they have made, and that will have extremely important ramifications for the future of the deal, so we will have to wait and see whether Europe will implement what it has said it would do.'

Answering a question regarding talks with Washington on regional issues, the foreign minister said that 'as step one. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen much confidence-building on the US side'.

'If the United States is prepared to send a correct message, that once you reach a deal with the United States then that deal is there to stay, and then it will be a different story,' he added.

'Iran has problems with the way the United States has behaved in our region. You see, we have problems with the fact that the US and its allies have been ambivalent about terrorism, have not been on the right side in standing against these various terrorist organizations; being ISIS, Taliban, Al Qaeda, others. We have a clear record,' Zarif noted.

He elaborated on Iran's regional policy and said, 'From Day One, we opposed Al Qaeda. From Day One, we opposed the Taliban. From Day One, we opposed ISIS. From Day One, we opposed Nusrat. From Day One, we came to the assistance of everybody who opposed them. And all this nonsense about Iran playing a sectarian policy cannot stand the test of history. Why did we go to the aid of Barzani in Erbil when ISIS was about to take over? Why did we go to the aid of the Afghans when Taliban came to take over? Were they Shias? Why did we do it?'

'We have a consistent policy of opposing extremism. We have a consistent policy of opposing takeover by military force. That is why we objected to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait; that is why we objected to the US invasion of Iraq; that is why we objected to the Turkish coup; that is why we objected to pressure against Qatar. We have a consistent policy,' Zarif said.

He criticized US regional policies and noted, 'Unfortunately, the United States and its allies cannot claim that they had the consistent policy, and if they did it would be a consistent policy supporting the wrong side.'

Zarif referred to the obstacles put by the United States in the way of the implementation of nuclear deal, including banking, delays in granting licenses for airplanes, other stuff that are not in conformity with the deal and said, 'To the extent that President Trump’s decision would exacerbate the atmosphere of uncertainty, it would be a violation of not only the spirit of the deal, but even the letter of paragraphs 26, 28 and 29 of the deal, as was his statement. I mean, his statement was not impromptu or a campaign rally; he made that statement in front of the UN General Assembly and that statement in and of itself was a violation of the letter of paragraphs 26, 28 and 29 of the deal'.

Answering the question that Iran will withdraw the nuclear deal in reaction to Trump, the Iranian foreign minister said, 'No, no, no, we won’t pull out. We will wait for Congress to make its decision. We would consider that a violation of the provisions of the deal that would call on the United States to ensure that the national environment or economic activities of Iran would not be negatively affected by US behavior. These are in the deal, I mean, I’m not creating them and I’m not creating new conditions, unlike the United States, which it seems to be establishing new criteria.'

'And then a lot would depend on how Europe responds to this, whether the European Union wants to follow the United States, or whether the European Union, as has been stated by various European representatives, wants to resist the pressure by the United States, and how, whether it simply resisted by making political statements; whether it takes appropriate legal measure, a whole range of options that are open, and based on the realities on the ground, Iran will exercise its option,' he added.

Zarif said that 'options range from walking away from the deal to somehow accommodating Europe. We would need to then decide.'

He said that 'We have decided what we will do in each eventuality, but because there are several possible scenarios that we could be facing, we will not announce any specific decision before we see what the facts on the ground are.'

'The Europeans have made it very clear to us and to the United States that they intend to do their utmost to ensure survival of the deal. We will wait,' Zarif said regarding the EU stance on the issue.

Answering a question about the future of Iran nuclear deal in the next one year, the foreign minister estimated that 'better than 50' percent, he think the deal will be in place.

Iran and G5+1 (US, UK, Russia, China, France plus Germany) reached a nuclear deal (known also as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) in Vienna in 2015, according which Iran will accept additional restrictions on its peaceful nuclear program in exchange of removal of Iran sanctions.

Commenting on Russia and China stance, the Iranian foreign minister said, 'They have been very supportive of both the deal and the Iranian position within the deal. They have supported our position on US lack of full compliance with the deal in the meetings of the Joint Commission. And they have insisted on the need for full implementation. So, we are confident that they will continue to take every necessary action to ensure that’s needed fully implemented and fully complied with.'

'Russia is a neighbor. We have similarities of position on important regional issues, such as the need to stand against extremism, terrorism, violence, and stand for national unity and territorial integrity of states in the region. So, there are commonalities of position,' he said answering a question on Tehran-Moscow ties.

Zarif noted that 'of course, like any two countries, we may have differences of position, but I believe we are bound by important ties of neighborliness, as well as important national security issues'.

He referred to Iran's principled policy towards regional developments and certain regional powers' wrong approach, including their support for ISIS and former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and said, 'They made the wrong choice. We made the right choice. Why should we be blamed for the mistakes they made? They made the mistakes'.

'Of course we would. We have responded positively to every gesture by anybody,' the foreign minister said while answering a question regarding possible Riyadh demand for improving of ties with Iran.

He elaborated on Iran's efforts for making peace in Syria and said, 'I presented a four-point plan: ceasefire—that is, end the killing; an inclusive broad-based government of national unity; constitutional reform; and an election based on the reformed constitution.'

'We insisted on that. We acted on that. Unfortunately, certain players wanted a military solution, removing certain individuals from office. For us, the redline was not any an individual; the redline was fighting terrorism and allowing the Syrians to decide,' Zarif noted.

Answering a question regarding the Syria chemical weapons, he said, 'The Russia-US plan to disarm Syria from its chemical weapons was actively supported by Iran, and we not only politically supported it, but provided support on the ground to Syria in order to disarm. That is why because we have invested so heavily in removing chemical weapons from Syria, we believe that there was a need for an international investigation. And, had there been an international investigation determining responsibility for the use of chemical weapons, Iran would have taken even a stronger measure.'

Replying to a question on balkanization of Syria and Iraq, the Iranian foreign minister opposed to the idea and said,'We believe that we may need a constitutional reform in Syria that would disperse power, that would enable various communities to have a share of power, but that is for Syrians to decide. But we want sovereign, strong governments in both Iraq and Syria. I believe there are other parties who are pushing for division, for fragmentation, for breakup of these states. They think that that would resolve some of the problems, but I can assure you, that would be the beginning of great problems in our region, including this new referendum in Iraq.'

'Although we are eternal friends of the Kurds, we went to their rescue when ISIS came close to Erbil, but we believe that this was an extremely imprudent step,' he said in a reference to the referendum held in Iraq on September 25.

'We are afraid that this could lead to a lot of tension inside Iraq, within various communities, and we hope before it’s too late, before it gets out of hand, that Kurds and Erbil and Baghdad would engage in negotiations not based on the referendum, but based on the constitution of Iraq.'

Zarif noted that 'it is important for the Kurds to recognize that there is a constitution, to recognize article one of that constitution, which states very clearly, and that constitution was written with the participation of the Kurdish regional government. It states very clearly that national unity, territorial integrity of Iraq, is nonnegotiable, and I think that is an important recognition that our Kurdish friends need to arrive at'.

He referred to the rift between the North Korea and the US and said, 'I’m worried. I don’t think the world is on the brink of a nuclear crisis, but the fact that you talk about this is dangerous... Even the possibility is frightening.'


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