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Zarif: I Hope US Removes Iran’s ‘Mistrust’ In Deal Implementation, Israel Needs ‘Tension’ and ‘Conflict’

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that he hopes the US’ behavior in the implementation of the Iran deal will “remove some of the compounded mistrust” and accused Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu of either needing tension, needing conflict, or seeing “peace as an existential threat” in an interview with NBC’s Andrea Mitchell broadcast on Tuesday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” on MSNBC.

Zarif said, “I think this is a beginning to start a different type of relationship with the West, and I hope that the United States can exhibit a type of behavior in the implementation of this agreement that can, in fact, help remove some of the compounded mistrust that has been building, mutually, between the two countries over the past many decades, but particularly since the revolution. It is important to see if we can use this opportunity of an agreement that is in the interest of everybody, good for everybody, I don’t think this agreement harms anybody. If we can use this agreement in order to start denting that wall of mistrust.”

He later added, “we have had a very difficult history. The Iranian people have witnessed a democratically elected government overthrown by a coup d’état orchestrated by the United States. They have seen that the United States supported Saddam Hussein, who waged a war of aggression against Iran for eight years, used chemical weapons against Iranian — both soldiers and civilians, and the United States even provided intelligence in order to enable it to use chemical weapons against us. So, that’s not a very bright history. And people have reason to be pessimistic about US intentions. I think it’s high time for the United States to try to address these anxieties.”

Earlier Zarif argued, “I think the significance is we were able to resolve it diplomatically. All sorts of ways and means of addressing this issue has been exhausted, basically, over the last many years. Iran has been under all sorts of sanctions for 35 years, as far as the United States is concerned, and seven, eight years though the United Nations Security Council, and a Western type of orchestrated sanctions against Iran, and it didn’t work, and two years of diplomacy did, and that’s the significance. It shows that, in our globalized world, diplomacy has a much better chance of achieving results than coercion and pressure. And I hope this will be a lesson for other situations as well.”

Zarif also addressed the criticisms lobbed at the deal by Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, saying, “Well, I think if people see this as a problem, it shows that they need tension, they need conflict, or they see peace as an existential threat. This has become the joke of the century for Mr. Netanyahu to advocate nonproliferation with 200, just about, nuclear warheads sitting in his stockpile.”

When asked about critics in the US Congress, Zarif answered, “Well, actually it’s sort of [a] reciprocal situation. We have our critics. We have people in Iran who have a lot of mistrust in the ability and the intention of the United States to live up to this agreement, and to try to implement its part of the deal. So, it’s going to be a difficult exercise. But what I can tell people who oppose this, this deal, is that they tried, ll other options, didn’t work. Now, diplomacy produced results, at least initially. Let’s give it a chance, and see if it works.”

Zarif was also asked about Iran’s sponsorship of terrorist groups, which he answered with, “Well, look at the realities on the ground in the Middle East. Probably those who are now beheading innocent individuals, wreaking havoc in our region, none of them are financed by Iran, but instead by US allies. So, the United States needs to look at them, none of them are under terrorist states. That tells you something about the terrorism. That tells you that that is more a reflection of US pattern[s] of alliance and bilateral relations, than any real objective reality on the ground in our region.”

He also declared, “I think Secretary Kerry showed a great deal of patience and courage and exercised a great deal of wisdom in order to be able to move this process forward. And I believe his commitment to this process, as well as that President Obama and President Rouhani and the leader.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

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