WATCH: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says ‘nothing is inevitable’ with U.S. and Iran


Minister zarif. Thank you very much for talking with us good today Did you again let’s start with the downing yesterday by the United States of the Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz President Trump says that this was just the latest in a series of Provocative and hostile acts by Iran. Is that how you see it? well, first of all to the best of our information We didn’t lose any drones yesterday. So it doesn’t look like that They shot one of our drones. Maybe they shot one of their drones the reports that they shot probably somebody else’s drones but Provocative if even if it were our drone we are in our own neighborhood the US Naval vessel is about six thousand miles away from its shores. So I would ask you who’s being provocative Is the you are the u.s. And Iran? Inevitably hadded given this given what’s been happening in the last few months towards some kind of military Confident nothing is inevitable We human beings make history and I think human beings if prudence prevails can prevent war because in any military confrontation everybody loses that’s the job that Leaders diplomats have to perform and we are trying to do our best It requires prudence. It requires foresight. It requires not being childish The Trump administration Official line is that the u.s. Is not looking for war with Iran. Do you believe that? No, we didn’t come to the Gulf of Mexico They came to the Persian Gulf now they have to watch That they should not Undermine our sovereignty our territorial integrity or our security and Then we won’t have a war So what is it going to take? I mean right now you have the u.s. Imposing what they say are maximum pressure sanctions on Iran You are saying what you’re just saying now about your territorial integrity about the u.s. Coming into your region. What is it going to take? President Trump has said publicly That he is engaged in economic war with Iran. I Just want to define what economic war is Economic war is a war where you target? ordinary citizens In a military war you target military personnel sometimes citizens civilians become collateral targets there is a collateral damage on civilians, but In an economic war you cannot target Military, you cannot target the leadership you’re targeting ordinary men and women Industry to one by cancer medicine who want to buy em as medicine kids who need? cure for their EB Problems. These are the targets of Economic war I would call it economic terrorism pure and simple Because it aims to put pressure on people in order to achieve political objectives My question is how do you come together though? Given the u.s. Position given Iran’s position you’ve been saying this week Mr. Minister that if the U.s. That if that Iran may be prepared to Change the course of your uranium enrichment. No, we’re not We’re not we have an agreement that we negotiated With the United States, it doesn’t matter which government of the United States because The outside world considers the government sitting in Washington Representing there as representing the United States and last I heard we did not have a revolution in 2016 in the United States. We just had an election a Government that replaces the previous government through electoral process inherits their obligations We have an agreement What I have suggested, is that if President Trump is serious about going to Congress because he has said whatever I will do I will ratify it in the Congress if he is serious about going to the Senate and to The house to ratify something there is a provision in the current agreement. That is in 2023 we’re supposed to ratify the Additional Protocol which requires us to put all our facilities under UN inspections for life He said he was concerned about the length the sunset that would be for life Not even a hundred years that would be permanent and it would also require The United States to lift its sanctions by Congress permanently that is a provision that we already Negotiated he wants to do better He can implement that provision right now and rest assured that Iran will never produce nuclear weapons if that is his objective He can do it now So but there’s no indication right now that President Trump will do that because because the motto is what’s mine is mine What’s yours is negotiable? That won’t work? But my point is there’s no indication right now that the President Trump is inclined to do that unless you have information that we don’t Have well you see I’m not interested in what he is inclined to do. I’m interested in what the United States must do as a responsible player in the international scene I’m sure president Trump wants to leave a legacy of a law-abiding country Not a country that breaks treaties. Would Iran be prepared to in order to? To remove. Mr. Trump to do what you’re describing. Would it be prepared to accelerate the date? That you ratify this this Agreement with the IAEA the International Atomic Energy Agency that that sets up Serious inspections in Iran. This is a date that’s coming the so-called transition date 2023 we are prepared to To bring that forward We need to go to our Parliament our Parliament needs to ratify it what we are prepared to take it to the Parliament immediately provide the United States does what it was supposed to do in 2023 take the sanctions to Congress for them to lift the sanctions permanently. That is the agreement we already have we could bring it forward so that President ROM could make history by making sure that the relations between the two countries would change forever and are there some Republican members of the United States Senate who you’ve either been in touch with or who you think would be willing to push What you’re describing and their reports that you may be meeting this week with Senator Rand Paul Well, I need to read members of Congress when I’m here. Not as emissaries of the government but as Representatives of people I do not comment about who I meet or what we discuss, but I do meet with members of Congress are there conversations going on with with members of the Senate behind the scenes or in public that could That they could move you think could move the Trump administration to do what you want well I certainly talk to think tanks to members of Congress and I share with them Ideas about how we can get out of this stalemate and they share with me their ideas About how to get out of this stalemate and we do that for a purpose to get out of the stalemate We don’t do it just to exercise our freedom of speech Mr. Minister even Americans who agree who believe with you that the Trump administration was wrong to withdraw from the 2015 agreement ask why is Iran? Enriching uranium beyond the cats. Why does it on need to do that? We don’t need to do that we have a provision in the Agreement that if one side does not Fulfill its obligations the other side may within the agreement Reduce its commitments now in the in the long term. We need four-and-a-half percent Enriched uranium in order to fuel our nuclear power plant. We don’t need it immediately That’s why we accepted to delay that but we will need it sooner or later If the United States and if the Europeans don’t fulfill their obligations then we have a right That’s a remedy because you know, the nuclear deal was not based on trust The nuclear deal was based on total mistrust. We did not trust The other side the other side did not trust us. Let’s be fair That may all be but the political reality is and are you not concerned that by enriching? Beyond the caps. You are simply embolden People like the National Security Advisor John Bolton others and other hardliners in the Trump administration Who don’t want to see any sort of agreement whether one well as a democracy, you can understand that First and foremost we are responsible and accountable to our own people and our own people expect us to do something in response to us violations and to european failures that’s how a democracy operates you respond to the demands to the wishes of your populace of your electorate but you also recognize the political implications of what you’re doing on the US where the political implications Are that if you do not abide by your treaty obligations, you cannot expect others to do the same Because you cannot implement a multilateral treaty Unilaterally once I cannot simply benefit from the positive outcomes of Implementation of a treaty without being prepared to do their part of the bargain As we sit here today in the middle of july 2019 What are the American people to believe about the prospects for any sort of easing of tensions with Iran? Well, I think that that can be within reach provided that we accept what we agreed to That’s all it takes. All it takes is to recognize the fact That nobody will buy the same horse twice. You won’t buy the same horse twice I won’t buy the same horse twice if we just agree that other people have This have similar concerns similar public opinion as you do then it is possible to reach an an outcome out of this stalemate But the American people look at Iran. They hear President Trump saying this is the world’s greatest threat right now your country They they hear that you are enriching uranium. You’re on the way to nuclear weapons Why should they relax? Had we wanted to build a nuclear weapon. We would have built it during the time that we paid for it from 2005 till 2013 we actually paid many times in international isolation in international pressure in sanctions in UN Security Council resolutions Probably nobody received that type of pain had we wanted to build nuclear weapons We would have built it then we can build nuclear weapons, but we do not want to build nuclear weapons We’ve made it very clear. We’ve made it public we have Ideological commitments not to use nuclear weapons we have strategic Considerations that nuclear weapons don’t augment our security. So that’s our position but but if he says we are the greatest threat to The United States and to international peace. Just ask him who is bombing Yemen who is Imprisoning the prime minister of Lebanon who is aiding – who is aiding the Taliban who is creating havoc in Libya but not in Libya. We’re not in in the Sudan. These are US allies It’s not Iran. So if you want to look for malign behavior If you want to look for a threat you look at Saudi Arabia, you look at the people who butcher a journalist Not that Iran You mentioned Yemen clearly that terrible war has been going on for years There the Saudis are involved the Houthi rebels have a connection clearly where they’re wrong. We now know that The UAE the United Arab Emirates are withdrawing most of their forces. Could this be a moment? For some sort of breakthrough there. Well, we have we’ve had many moments to end the war in Yemen Starting with four years ago in April 2015, which we could have ended the war in Yemen So it is unfortunately and you can check even with American officials Saudis unfortunately believed that they could win this war militarily within weeks if you just check Even news footage you’ll see them you you hear them saying that? Now we could have ended it four years ago. We can end it now it just takes one cognitive Transformation this war cannot be won militarily Are you prepared to meet with UAE leaders either in Tehran or somewhere else anytime? Is such a meeting being discussed right now, we know you’ve had meetings with UAE officials With the UAE, so we’re prepared to meet them be prepared to meet the Saudis. We we have we will be having 80,000 Iranians in Saudi Arabia these days performing has probably half of them performing the annual pilgrimage Probably half of them are already in Saudi Arabia. So we have no reason to engage in a conflict with Saudi Arabia. They’re our neighbors we have the same religion the same history the same geography so we can meet anytime it just it just requires an Acceptance of the reality that we all need to provide our own security Regionally and not we cannot purchase security from outside And and what does that mean practically? Practically means that we need to work together rather than work against each other and could this be a moment for that to happen? And I certainly pray for it is is there some tangible evidence? Not yet. Not yet. Not with Saudi Arabia Unfortunately, I do not see a readiness on the part of the Saudis to start thinking about how a Regional mechanism rather than an extra regional mechanism could give them security but but you are prepared to talk to the UAE and to We are prepared to talk to all our neighbors. I’ve said it publicly that we are prepared to sign non-aggression pacts with all our neighbors every neighbor of Iran will be Invited to sign non-aggression pacts with Iran but you’re saying as of this moment, there’s no movement Tangible movement in that direction because unfortunately, they see that the United States even supports them. Literally bit murder You get away with murder and still get the support of the United States and we all saw that how it happened You mentioned you just said that Iran is prepared to sign a non-aggression Agreement statement at the same time. We know that Iran is still supporting working with a number of armed non-state groups militias across the region Why is this continuing? Why does Iran need to work with? with with these groups that are creating Violence in so many countries actually, we work with groups that are defending themselves The United States allies were working with groups that promote violence. We never worked with al-qaeda We never worked with Isis. We never work with Javits and nostra we never worked with people who are beheading or Burning alive individuals we work with people support people as everybody should Who are defending their territorial integrity for fighting occupation or fighting for an aggression? That we do and we do it pride proud and you work with Hezbollah Is a group that has representatives in the in the Lebanese Parliament? We were not the ones who imprisoned the Lebanese foreign prime minister Others imprisoned him and Hezbollah made sure that Lebanon would stay calm and quiet while Saudi Arabia was questioning and interrogating the prime minister of another state is Iran prepared in any way to reassure the United States the rest of the world that it is going to that it is not going to Continue to support groups like Hezbollah. No, which are seen as destabilized. No, we are very transparent We will not support anybody who’s destabilizing but we believe it is the United States. Who’s destabilizing honest allies as I said We will never support groups that are destabilizing but we believe that if you look at our region the people with whom we work represent their own people are members of their own Parliament’s are Important figures in their own communities and they’re not a destabilizing force had it not been for Hezbollah fighting Isis in lab in Lebanon and in Syria, we would have had a totally different situation. So we need to define Destabilizing. The United States’s is stabilizing. The United States presence in our region has been destabilizing You don’t need to listen to me for that. You take president Trump. I asked President Trump to simply listen to the tapes of his own debates his own presidential debates and See he said in those debates that Iran is fighting Isis that the United States helped create Isis So I would simply agree with President Trump Two other things I want to ask you about one is Syria Why is Iran still supporting a Syrian regime which has killed its own people? Use chemical weapons on it. We have said time and again that we are in Syria Cooperating against Isis we do that in Syria. We do that in Iraq We do that even in Iraqi Kurdistan. We have done it across the board. That is our objective the decision about who should Syria is not ours is not yours that decision is Solely a decision that should be made by the people of Syria and we’ve been saying that I said that six years ago Let the people of Syria decide but the United States wanted to pre Determine that Bashar will not be running in the election, but if you believe that he is such a Butcher that is killing his people then why do you mind if he runs in an election? He would be voted out by the people. You should only make sure that you have a free and fair election and that’s what we’ve been calling for but they want a Basically preconditions for an election now. I’m happy that they have set aside those preconditions. We’re moving with Russia and with Turkey to establish a constitutional Commission. We are very close to finalizing the Constitutional Commission then the people of Syria could sit together draft their constitution have their own election and we can all Facilitate that you know, we cannot dictate for other countries we have learned that dictation doesn’t work I think the United States needs to learn that too you believe Mr. Assad will allow a democratic process to go forward free and fair elections in that country I think he will and I think we all should help them You think the evidence of what he’s done to his own people? Doesn’t undermine that his own people with the site It’s not for us to decide it’s for his own people to decide and I believe always at the end of the day people Are the best judge but won’t he be choosing who participates in the process we can make sure that the process is free and fair that we said from the beginning and we continue to say that but unfortunately people who had Preconditions did not want to allow the people of Syria to make that decision. That’s why we have a prolonged conflict final question Mr. Zarif, Iran is now holding at least six Americans detaining six Americans Why is it on holding room the United States is detaining many Iranians who have not committed any crime the United States is pushing other countries to detain Iranians who have only violated US sanctions, they never set foot in the United States, but they are held in Australia in Germany in France in the United Kingdom in Africa in Asia I called for a comprehensive exchange Unfortunately, the United States is not prepared to do that. Iran showed its good faith by releasing One the United States has not reciprocated. So I think the problem is in Washington not in Tara are these individuals who are being detained have they committed a crime? What have they done? The individuals who are in Iran have been Convicted by a court the the individuals who are waiting extradition to the United States Some of them lingering in prison for two three years have not been convicted by any court What will it take to win the release That’s how I can get involved because I cannot get involved if it’s just a one-sided situation because our Judiciary is independent and they will make their own decision. But if there is an exchange then I can intervene How many? Iranians are being held by the United States much more than the number of Dual nationals that are being killed in Iran probably several times Finally most of them are University professors Including one whose case is now public in the United States He was he is a leading figure in stem-cell research and he’s being held in jail for nine months even without a pre-trial Finally if there’s one So you want the American people to know from the government of Iran? What is it? The government of Iran does not want conflict The government of Iran does not the people of Iran don’t want confrontation The people and government of Iran have nothing against American people. All we want is for nobody to intervene in our affairs I think that’s something that the MA that American people could easily understand the Americans did not want others to intervene in their affairs That’s why they had the American Revolution. We do not want others to intervene in our affairs. That’s all Foreign minister Javad Zarif. Thank you very much. Thank you

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