In an exclusive interview Sunday morning on “This Week,” Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif condemned the Holocaust as a “heinous crime” and a “genocide,” saying the appearance of the word “myth” about the Holocaust on the Iranian Supreme Leader’s English website was the result of a poor translation job.
Former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad often denied the very existence of the Holocaust, and invited infamous Holocaust deniers to Tehran for an “International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust.” Also, a February 2006 speech from by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamanei includes the phrase “the myth of the massacre of Jews”.
“The Holocaust is not a myth. Nobody’s talking about a myth,” Zarif told George Stephanopoulos on “This Week” Sunday when asked about the quote. “If it’s there … it’s a bad translation, and it’s translated out of context… This is the problem when you translate something from Persian to English, you may lose something, as the film goes, ‘Lost in Translation,’ you may lose some of the meaning.”
Zarif continued immediately with some good, old Israel bashing, calling it the aggressor in the Middle East.
“We condemn the killing of innocent people, whether it happened in Nazi Germany or whether it’s happening in Palestine,” Zarif said. “[The] Holocaust was a heinous crime, it was a genocide, it must never be allowed to be repeated, but that crime cannot be and should not be a justification to trample the rights of the Palestinian people for 60 years.”
Zarif, who is serving as Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, met Secretary of State John Kerry in New York on Thursday. Both sides said the meeting was constructive, and are planning more talks next month in Geneva.
Zarif said resolution of the nuclear issue “will be a first step, a necessary first step, towards removing the tensions and doubts and misgivings that the two sides have had about each other for the last 30-some years.”
“There has been 34 years of the building up of this mutual distrust,” Zarif told Stephanopoulos. “We need to move in that direction of removing some of that mistrust, true mutual steps that each side needs to take in order to convince the other side that its intentions are positive and for a better future for all of us.”
Zarif told Stephanopoulos that Iran is “prepared to start negotiating” on its nuclear program, while maintaining that the country is not seeking nuclear weapons.
“We know that Iran is not seeking a nuclear weapon,” Zarif said. “Having an Iran that does not have nuclear weapons is not just your goal. It’s first and foremost our goal.”
Except that he also insisted that “our right to enrich is non-negotiable,” regarding Iran’s efforts to enrich uranium for nuclear power purposes. But Zarif said his country would not seek weapons-grade uranium that could be used to build a nuclear weapon.
“We do not need military grade uranium. That is a certainty and we will not move in that direction,” Zarif said.
Zarif called on the U.S. to “dismantle its illegal sanctions against Iran that are targeting ordinary Iranians.”
“There has been a lot of arm twisting… by certain elements within the U.S. government which have tried to put pressure on ordinary Iranian people,” Zarif said. “Sanctions are not a useful tool of implementing policy. And the United States needs to change that.”
In other words, the sanctions have been effective, and Iran is crying Uncle. It doesn’t mean they’ll stop working on a nuclear bomb, and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu must continue to make the world body aware of this very real danger. But President Obama, for his part, might still choose to take Yes for an answer.
Zarif hit back at Netanyahu’s criticism of Iran’s diplomatic efforts, which the PM dubbed “a smile attack.”
“A smile attack is much better than a lie attack,” Zarif said. “Mr. Netanyahu and his colleagues have been saying since 1991… that Iran is six months away from a nuclear weapon. And we are how many years, 22 years after that? And they are still saying we are six months away from nuclear weapons.”