Javad Zarif said terrorism is the product not of Islam “as some of the new people being talked about in US say” but of a perversion of Islam that the US itself promoted for 40 years.
New Delhi: Notwithstanding the election of Donald Trump, who has vowed to scrap the nuclear agreement with Iran, or the extension of sanctions by the US Senate, Iran does not believe the landmark deal is in jeopardy, the country’s foreign minister, M. Javad Zarif said here on Saturday.
Decrying the US Senate decision to extend the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) for 10 years – a move which he said “lowers American credibility” – Zarif said “the nuclear agreement is not a bilateral agreement but a multilateral agreement that came after everything failed.”
Iran says the US action will be a clear violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – the nuclear agreement between Tehran and the P5+1 (Russia, China, the US, Britain, France and Germany).
Asked if Trump’s election and the extension of sanctions meant that the nuclear deal was in trouble, Zarif said, “I don’t think that the nuclear deal is in jeopardy”. But he said Iran would not sit back if the agreement were compromised. “We have said that if they go back to sanctions then we will not consider ourselves bound by these agreement… Our options are wide open… We prepared this mutually accepted decision,” he said at a seminar organised by ORF while noting that all sides sacrificed.
The Iranian minister also spoke about terror and extremism and said the root cause of radicalisation in the Middle East is alienation and exclusion, made worse by the failure of state systems in the Middle East and the growth of takfiri ideology, under which anyone who disagrees is labelled an infidel.
Taking a dig at Trump’s nominee for NSA, Mike Flynn, without naming him, Zarif said takfiri ideology is an attribute not of Islam of a perversion of the faith. “Now some people are saying that these attributes are actually part of the Islamic faith, they forget that for 40 years they tolerated, even promoted this ideology. In the US, some of the new people who are being talked about are saying this is an attribute of Islam. No. This is an attribute of a perverted version that you promoted, because this was the ideology of your allies.” Though Zarif did not identify Saudi Arabia, he also criticised the manner in which “US allies” in the region had spent millions of dollars spreading this ideology throughout the region.
Zarif blamed the growth of radicalisation in the region on foreign occupation, intervention and the use of the military might by the US, especially its invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003. “That is why I hope people don’t attempt to make America great again. This perception is inherently wrong,” he said, taking another dig at Trump. He also attacked the idea that building a wall could help a country safeguard its environment or security. The environment and security are global, he said, and protecting these required all countries to work together.
Asked if Iran can play the mediator role in Kashmir between India and Pakistan, the Iranian leader said his country has good relations with both. Making it clear that Iran is not volunteering, Zarif said his country will be glad to help in whatever way it can. He said Iran and India were working together to help Afghanistan combat extremism and were doing so by assisting in the creation of a “formal economy” in that country. He hailed the recent trilateral Chabahar agreement, which, he said, would provide Afghanistan and other countries in the region with a way to export iron ore and other minerals to world markets.