Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
(photo credit: ATTA KENARE / AFP)
Iran’s foreign minister said the Iran nuclear deal could falter and vowed to recover whatever litigants seize in the wake of a US Supreme Court ruling allowing access to frozen Iranian funds.
Javad Zarif in an interview with the New Yorker posted Monday also likened Holocaust deniers in Iran to the Ku Klux Klan.
Speaking of the nuclear pact, Zarif said: “The deal is in place. But if one side does not comply with the agreement, then the agreement will start to falter.”
Zarif was referring to his government’s claim that the United States is not doing enough to persuade third parties that it is now permissible to trade with Iran, as guaranteed under the sanctions relief for nuclear rollback agreement reached last year and formally implemented in February.
President Barack Obama has said his administration will do more to make clear the United States will not penalize third parties who deal with Iran, but will maintain embargoes on any US trade with Iran, including disallowing Iranian trade in US dollars.
Zarif described as “theft” last week’s Supreme Court ruling allowing victims of terrorist attacks carried out with Iran’s backing, and their families, to access nearly $2 billion in frozen US assets. He appeared to threaten to take similar action against the United States.
“People can legislate in other countries to confiscate American assets,” he said. “Would you be willing to accept it? So why should we accept the Supreme Court ruling? The Supreme Court is the Supreme Court of the United States, not the Supreme Court of the world. We’re not under its jurisdiction, nor is our money. It is a theft. Huge theft. It is highway robbery. And believe you me, we will get it back.”
Zarif would not give an inch on Iranian ballistic missile tests, which violate United Nations Security Council resolutions and have prompted new US sanctions and calls from Congress for even tougher sanctions. He said the missiles were purely defensive.
The New Yorker pressed Zarif on a periodic Holocaust cartoon festival launched by former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He replied that it’s run by an NGO unaffiliated with the government.
Asked why Iran permits it in any case, he replied, “Why does the United States have the Ku Klux Klan? Is the government of the United States responsible for the fact that there are racially hateful organizations in the United States?”
Reminded that he has wished Jews worldwide a Happy New Year at Rosh Hashanah, he said: “So we will not be going to that festival’s opening.”