By staff and agency

U.S. not in a position to draw redlines for Iran’s defense capabilities: Zarif

August 13, 2019

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has said that the United States is not in a position to draw redlines for Iran’s defense capabilities.

“The Americans are not in a position to draw red lines for what we do for our defense,” he told Aljazeera in an interview published on Monday.

He also warned against the U.S. weapons sales in the Middle East, saying, “If you are talking about threats coming from the region, the threats are coming from the U.S. and its allies who are pouring weapons in the region, making it a tinderbox ready to blow up.”

“I think the United States is the source of instability in this region. I think U.S. allies, unfortunately, have been the source of instability,” he says, referring to countries including Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Zarif also said that Iran is not seeking war and confrontation.

“What is very clear - extremely clear - is that we are not seeking war, we do not want confrontation, we want development for our people, we want development for our region,” he said.

“We need stability here, but stability should be for everybody. We cannot have stability for some and instability for others. We need to have stability for all countries in the region and we are prepared to protect stability for all countries in the region, and for those who depend on our region,” he added.

Zarif says, “We believe that the best the U.S. can do for the protection of maritime navigation is to just leave people alone; don't interfere.”
Commenting on the U.S. act in forming a coalition in the Persian Gulf to protect navigation, Zarif said, “We believe that the best the U.S. can do for the protection of maritime navigation is to just leave people alone; don't interfere.”

On Iran’s continued commitment to the nuclear pact and its viability, Zarif said he believes “it is the best deal that was possible”, even though he admits that it encountered opposition.

“It wasn’t the best deal for everybody because you cannot have the perfect deal. There is no perfect deal,” he says. “And if President Trump is given correct advice, he will be able to basically accept the reality that this is the best deal possible and we can move forward.”

However, Zarif feels the deal can proceed even without U.S. involvement, as long as the remaining participants agree to fulfil their own commitments. 

“What we want them to do and what we expect them to do is stay committed. And we will stay committed as long as they are,” he said.

“I think it’s an important signal that the United States is getting more and more isolated - not because of anything we have done but because of what they are doing,” Zarif said.

“They are violating the law, they are breaking the law, they are breaking every international treaty they have been a member of. They have broken not only the nuclear deal with Iran, but the Paris convention, the Trans Pacific Partnership - basically everything they could break they are breaking. So they are the source of instability globally and this type of behavior will lead to further global disorder. And I think that is dangerous for everybody and everybody is realizing that.”

Zarif says foreigners should leave region

Zarif also said that the regional belongs to the regional countries and foreigners should leave it.

“What we have called for, and repeat, is that our neighbors - all of us - belong to this region, we cannot leave this region. Others will leave this region; others will not secure us; others will not provide us with the security umbrella that we need. We can provide each other with that security umbrella. We extend our hand, and our hand remains extended, to all our neighbors,” he said.

Zarif admitted he is “certainly concerned” about the potential for a war in the region. 

“But as a diplomat, I always need to look for a peaceful way out. And that’s what we are trying,” he said.

NA/PA

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