US’ unreliability is international community’s problem: Iran FM Zarif

ظریف

Tehran (ISNA) - "Mutual trust is not a requirement to start negotiations – mutual respect is a requirement. It wasn’t our fault that the United States is not a reliable negotiating partner. It’s a problem that the international community is facing," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a wide-ranging, 45-minute interview with USA TODAY.

“Mutual respect starts with respecting yourself, with respecting your signature, respecting your own word," Zarif said, a reference to various international agreements Trump has abandoned or renegotiated since taking office.

"We reached an agreement with the United States, not a two-page agreement, but a 150-page agreement. And the United States decided to walk away from it," Zarif said in the interview, referring to Iran nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

"It wasn’t our fault that the United States is not a reliable negotiating partner," he said. "It’s a problem that the international community is facing."

Mr. Zarif stressed that Iranian government would consider fresh diplomacy if there were "foundations for a fruitful dialogue" on the Iran nuclear reduction deal.

"The current U.S. administration is essentially asking all members of the international community to violate international law" by forcing them to break a deal that was enshrined in a United Nations Security Council resolution, Zarif said, later adding: "Iran is used to U.S. sanctions. We've had them for almost 39 years." 

Zarif noted Trump’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear accord came over the objections of the USA’s closest allies – and despite repeated confirmation from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog that Iran has been complying with the accord's terms by reducing its uranium-enrichment program.

"For somebody to simply say, 'I don’t like it. I want to walk away from it because I believe I am powerful enough to do it.' What is the guarantee that they won’t do that again in the next agreement?" Zarif said in the interview. 

"It doesn’t have to be a different administration, but it does require a different approach,” Zarif stressed, referring to what it would take for Iran to join U.S. talks.

"I believe human beings can change. This administration can have a different approach. We are willing to wait out this approach," he said.

"The government is providing subsidies so that the necessities for peoples’ lives will be provided at the previous prices, but nobody claims economic sanctions don't hurt. Economic sanctions always hurt, but they don't achieve the policy objectives they intend to achieve."

"The ‘special purpose vehicle’ (a financial mechanism being devised by European officials to enable trade and banking services with Iran to continue despite the sanctions, thus keeping the nuclear deal afloat for the time being) is one measure specifically designed as the first step to the deal with the Iranian situation, but its ultimate objective is not simply to insulate trade between Iran and Europe, or between Iran and its third-party partners, but in fact (for Europe) to insulate themselves from the pressure it faces from the United States."

"Trump and his administration said they would bring Iranian oil exports to zero (because of the sanctions). We said that was a dream that will never come true. … We have seen we were right (because the U.S. issued oil export waivers to eight countries that will be able to buy Iran’s oil)."

"In one sentence, we're not pinning any hopes on (the elections in Congress) or 2020 (when there is a U.S. presidential election). What distinguishes Iran from some U.S. clients in the region is we have survived not only in spite of the U.S. but against U.S. … Iran has been through Democratic and Republican administrations in the past. … All of them have been hostile."

"Unfortunately, a person has been murdered in a very brutal way," Zarif said, referring to Khashoggi's killing inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. "Who created the Taliban?  Whose citizens were involved in the September 11 attacks? Who supported the Islamic State group in Syria? Who is bombing Yemeni civilians? Who abducted (Lebanon’s prime minister) and kept him in captivity for three weeks? … Look at all these realities," he added, saying Saudi involvement in these episodes, not all of which have been conclusively proven. "The United States has been not only making the wrong choice (by being a Saudi ally) but the West has been sending the wrong signal. Basically, literally, telling the Saudi royal family that you can get away with murder."

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