Zarif: U.S. 'obsession' with Iran is backfiring everywhere

September 29, 2018

The Donald Trump administration's “obsession” with Iran is backfiring throughout the region, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told Al-Monitor in an exclusive interview Friday evening.

Zarif's comments come on the tail end of a UN General Assembly that saw the U.S. take heat from allies and foes alike for its withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal. Iran's top diplomat took solace from the European Union's push this week to salvage the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and said that U.S. efforts to push Iran out of Iraq would similarly run into trouble.

“I think U.S. policy direction in the entire region, which is so focused on their obsession with Iran, has backfired in Lebanon, backfired in Syria, backfired in Iraq,” Zarif said. “And it will backfire elsewhere.”

Zarif expressed confidence that a new proposed financial mechanism announced by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini last week could help Iran weather some of fallout from U.S. sanctions.

“It will not be fully satisfactory but it can provide meaningful benefit to Iran,” Zarif said. “But we'll have to wait and see.”

And he said that the U.S. had undermined its efforts to work with its allies to address Iran's ballistic missile program.

“The fact that the United States withdrew from the JCPOA undermines the viability of any new arrangement,” Zarif said. “Because there is no guarantee that it would be implemented.”

On Iraq, Zarif said Iran and the United States appeared to be working at cross-purposes despite the shared threat from terrorism.

“Our interests are Iraqi stability,” he said. “I think [U.S.] priorities are very different – their priorities are to fight Iran. And that policy is doomed to failure.”

Asked if he had made any efforts to resume contact with U.S. officials since the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal in May, he answered simply, “Why should I?”


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