Zarif: Iran doesn’t seek new problems with the US

Zarif: Iran doesn't seek new problems with the US
US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, at a meeting in January in Geneva, Switzerland

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the Islamic Republic is not interested in “any provocation” with the United States, despite having nearly four decades of difficulty with the country.

The Iranian minister made the remarks in an interview with the Council on Foreign Relations, a New York-based think tank, on Friday, in response to a quote, raised by the interviewer, from US Republican presidential nominee Donald trump, who had said he would shoot the Iranian ships out of the “Persian Gulf.”

“Our soldiers and our sailors are a few miles away from our coasts. Yours, Americans, are several thousand miles away. And then they get upset when our boats tell them not to get into our [territorial] waters, that you are approaching Iranian borders, that… you encroach upon our sovereignty,” Zarif said, adding that the “Persian Gulf” is Iran’s lifeline, through which it sells almost all of the country’s oil.

“How would you think if an Iranian warship were to come to the Gulf of Mexico… and [tell the US forces], ‘Why are you getting close to me? I’m sailing in international waters.’,” he said, adding that likewise, in the “Persian Gulf”, “You are close to us. We are not getting close to you.”

Zarif also said that a greater majority of Iranians distrust the US today than they did before the nuclear deal, dubbed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was signed between Tehran and the P5+1 countries on July 2015.

“Before we had this deal, a majority of Iranians believed that resolving difficulties with the United States would be effective. Now the majority of Iranians believe otherwise, and that should send a very strong signal,” Zarif said, adding that Washington’s failure to fulfill its obligations under the nuclear deal has deepened the Iranians’ distrust in the US.

He noted that the fear of facing punitive measures from the US has discouraged major European banks from dealing with Iran months after the implementation of the JCPOA.