IRNA – Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said that problems of the Middle East are rooted in the false sense of security that the US is making for its allies.
The senior Iranian diplomat while in New York to take part in the UN sustainable goals meeting, was interviewed by a number of American and international media.
Speaking to Bloomberg, the Iranian foreign minister elaborated on various issues regarding Iran’s policies in the region, as well as the nuclear deal that is in a critical condition due to the US unilateral withdrawal and European Union’s lack of commitment to its obligations.
“No multilateral agreement can be implemented unilaterally,” he said, “If it is important for your security, then you have to invest in your security, you just don’t get security by praying for it. You must invest; you must do what is necessary.”
“And the Europeans need to take necessary action,” he said.
Europe has vowed to compensate the losses inflicted on Iran as a result of the US withdrawal. The EU pledged to devise a financial mechanism known as INSTEX (Instrument in Support of Trade Exchange) to confront US sanctions against Iran.
“They have made a commitment in the deal that Iran’s economic relations with the rest of the world will be normalized,” Zarif said, adding that they made a commitment after the United States left the deal.
The foreign minister said, “They knew that the US would leave it. They know the US’ impact on their economy, but they committed themselves to allowing Iran to sell oil, repatriate its money, have shipping, have insurance, and we have none of that.”
“So they need to live by their commitment. If they don’t, we have a mechanism within the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action),” Zarif said referring to Iran’s step-by-step measure in dealing with the non-compliance of the West.
Tehran has said that at the second phase of its measures to preserve the nuclear deal, it officially launched enriching uranium beyond the 3.67 percent limit that is set by the deal. The first stage came on the anniversary of the US withdrawal from the JCPOA in May 2018 when Iran announced the reduction of its commitments to the deal.
“We negotiated this deal with open eyes without trusting each other. Nobody trusted the other side. That is why we have mechanisms within the deal that we reduce our commitments until they comply.”
Once they comply, it can be reversed, but if we go beyond certain limits, the reversing would be much more difficult.
And if they don’t comply, he said, “We will continue with the steps, which are legal, in line with the agreement.”
“We are not going to build nuclear weapons, because if we wanted to make nuclear weapons, we could have built them a long time ago,” the Iranian minister.
“Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei had made the commitment—a religious commitment—which is not breakable. His religious view is that nuclear weapons are forbidden—haram, in Islamic terminology.”
“You don’t buy a horse twice. We paid the money. We have invested in this deal,” he said, complaining of the disloyalty of the signatories to the deal.
“The related sanctions were lifted neither by the US nor by the UN, because we were not prepared to discuss the issue.”
Saying that his remarks on talks with the US were misinterpreted, he explained that Washington “has a lot to do before it can talk about our missiles.”
“First, implement the agreement that they first made. We didn’t have a revolution in the United States. A government of the United States elected by its people had an agreement with Iran, and that agreement was endorsed by Security Council, where the United States was and is a permanent member. So nothing is changed. So they have to live up to their commitments.”
In explaining the steps Washington should follow for de-escalation, the minister said, “Then they have to start looking at where the problem is. The problem in our region is not the 16 billion dollars a year that we spend on defense. It’s the 67 billion dollars that Saudi Arabia spends on buying weapons from the United States and other Western countries. It is the 22 billion dollars that Emirates spends. That has to stop. That is making our region flammable.”
“He said that it seems President Trump believes that what’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is negotiable,” Zairf said mocking the president’s approach toward international deals.
“We did not leave the negotiation table; my colleagues were meeting with Brian Hook, until April of 2018. It was the United States which abruptly decided to leave the negotiating table. They can come back.”
Iran did negotiate with the US, he said referring to the “150-page document” which was based on “mistrust”.
No country in the right mind would make its foreign policy based on events that they don’t have any control over, the foreign minister believed.
“We don’t deal with other countries based on their domestic politics. Rather we deal with countries as unitary players in international relations,” Zarif added.
“In law, you cannot benefit from fruits of illegality. That’s a basic principle in law. Nobody can benefit from violating the law. And I think the United States is a country of laws. And I do not believe the United States wants to create a precedent, I don’t think that President Trump wants to create a precedent that law breaking will give you an advantage.”
He once more emphasized that the tanker seized by British forces in Gibraltar carrying Iranian crude was not heading to Syria.
“I cannot tell you where the tanker was going, because the United States with its policy of zero oil sales by Iran would go and prevent us from selling that oil,” the diplomat said.
“The United States is preventing us from doing transparent oil sale.”
He argued that the seizure was done on the basis of the US demand, “because the EU, unlike the United States, doesn’t impose its sanctions on third parties. That’s only what the United States does.
So the United Kingdom was not in a position to seize the tanker, he said calling it “piracy, pure and simple”.
The Strait of Hormuz is dangerous because it is crowded, he said referring to the US warship that shot down Iranian civilian airplane with 290 passengers onboard more than two decades ago.
“That is why we want to avoid a dangerous escalation,” the Iranian foreign minister said, adding that on the other hand the country cannot give up its defense.
Iran is not willing to close the Strait of Hormuz, because the waterway in the Persian Gulf is the country’s life line, he said.
“It has to be secure; We play a major role in securing it, but it has to be secure for everybody,” Zarif said.
Commenting on Saudi policies in the region, the senior diplomat said, “Unfortunately, Saudi Arabia believes that they can purchase security, and they pay it as a commodity, and buy it.”
The US “causes instability; it exacerbates tension; it creates a false sense of security for its clients who believe that they can get away with murder, literally,” he said while criticizing the conduct of Saudi Arabia and its allies in Yemen.
Rejecting the idea of any regime change in Saudi Arabia, the foreign minister said, “We are content with our size; we are content with our population; we are content with our resources; we are content with our geography; we don’t seek anybody else’s territory; we have no eye on somebody else’s resources.”
“Everywhere in the region that there is a problem, you have a Saudi footprint, and you have a UAE footprint.”
Describing the issue of the plot designed by the US for Palestine, being implemented by President Trump’s adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, Zarif said, “It’s not a peace plan, it’s a sales plan.”
“He wants to purchase Palestine,” he said, “I don’t think the aspirations of the generation can be purchased.”
“Problem of Palestine is the right of the Palestinian people to nationhood,” the Iranian foreign minister said, suggesting that any two-state solution should be put to a democratic referendum.