Zarif challenges “ulterior motives” of US officials and lobbyists


Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has again rebuffed US sanctions and pressure over the July 2015 nuclear deal, calling the US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley “ignorant”.

Zarif (pictured) used both Twitter and an interview with Iranian State media to push back on the US attempt, led by Haley, for inspections of Iranian military sites by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Last month, the US Congress adopted additional sanctions on Iran, citing its ballistic missile tests, alleged support of “terrorism”, and human rights record. While Donald Trump reluctantly signed a waiver recognizing Iranian compliance with the nuclear agreement, his officials said they would step up pressure on Tehran.

Haley then visited the IAEA just over a week ago to seek the inspections of military sites. Iran pushed back such inspections during the negotiations of the July 2015 deal, but IAEA Secretary General Yukiya Amano has held open the possibility if the IAEA has credible evidence of testing on the sites beyond the limits of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Zarif told the official website of the Iranian regime on Saturday, “What Ms.Haley has declared mostly show her ignorance of the text of the [nuclear] agreement in all fields, about which she expressed her opinion.”

The Foreign Minister and President Hassan Rouhani, as well as the Iranian Parliament, have promised a “proporationate response” if the new US sanctions are enforced.

Iran has said it will not leave the JCPOA. Rouhani shifted his position two weeks ago and said that this might occur if the US violated the agreement; however, his Government’s main effort has been to separate the countries of the European Union from Washington.

Saudi Delegation to Visit Tehran

In a small sign of a thaw in relations, a Saudi Arabian delegation will soon visit Tehran, 21 months after Riyadh broke relations with Iran.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi confirmed a report, in the Kuwaiti daily al-Jarida, said the Saudi officials will travel following the Eid al-Adha festivities, which end on Monday.

President Rouhani indicated his desire last week, in a televised interview, for a resumption of dialogue with the Saudis. His foreign policy of “engagement” has been challenged, including by internal opponents, by the conflict with Iran’s long-time rival in the Middle East.

Relations deteriorated with the deaths of 446 Iranian pilgrims among thousands killed in a crush near Mecca in September 2015, and Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic links three months later, following Riyadh’s execution of a prominent Shia cleric and a crowd attack on the Saudi Embassy in Tehran.

But, after months of negotiations, Iranian pilgrims are returning to Mecca for the Hajj this month.

The Kuwaiti paper said the Saudi team was scheduled to visit its diplomatic facilities in Iran in July, but differences with Iranian officials over the arrangements postponed the visit.