NBC News reporter Ann Curry had an exclusive interview with the Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Javad Zarif, on Wednesday, March 4. Although Curry doggedly asked the foreign minister several tough questions, the answers he gave with a straight face would be award winning, if the interview were meant to be fiction.
Throughout the interview, Zarif hammered away on his talking points which boil down to: Iran has no interest in building nuclear weapons, Iran’s nuclear program is purely peaceful, and Iran has been completely transparent and complied with every inspection and restriction placed upon it; while Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is a liar, is interfering in internal American politics, and Israel is the main aggressor, brutal occupier and destabilizing force in the region.
Curry asked Zarif whether his country and the global world powers – the P5+1 – were making progress in the negotiations. Zarif responded that they have been able to move forward with many issues dealing with the technicalities because, he said, Iran “said all along that our nuclear program is exclusively peaceful.”
When asked what the major stumbling block is to an agreement between Iran and the P5+1 countries, Zarif claimed it has been the pressure against making the political agreement. He was referring to Israel’s Netanyahu.
Zarif ridiculed Netanyahu who, he said, has been predicting for years that Iran is only one year away from producing a nuclear bomb. Zarif then very calmly explained that there really is nothing to Netanyahu’s hysteria.
Iran is not about building nuclear weapon. We don’t wanna build nuclear weapons. We don’t believe that nuclear weapons bring security to anybody, certainly not to us. So – it’s important for everybody to come to the realization that – this is about nuclear technology, this is about scientific advancement, this is about pride of the Iranian people. It’s – it has nothing to do with nuclear weapons. And once we reach that understanding, once this hysteria is out, once this fear mongering is out, then we can have a deal, and a deal that is not gonna hurt anybody.
Curry, to her credit, contradicted Zarif’s claim that Iran has been transparent. She mentioned the recent statement made by the International Atomic Energy Agency’s inspectors that Iran has been stalling and has not been transparent about its nuclear program, even as the negotiations have been ongoing. But Zarif smoothly pivoted, and went off on another tirade about Israel.
there have been allegations that have been made against Iran. Most of them, unfortunately, produced by Israel. And by the way, it’s important to know that Israel is the only possessor of nuclear weapons in our region, is the only aggressor in our region, is the only occupier of other people’s territory in our region. And it still has the audacity to go out and make claims– about others. The prime minister, who is actually responsible for the carnage that took place in Gaza, is accusing a country that has not invaded any of its neighbors, or anybody else for that matter, for over 250 years, more than the life of many nations.
Incredibly, Zarif presented Iran as the ultimate pacifist nation, claiming it has not invaded or “aggressed upon” any of its neighbors, whereas Israel’s record is “disastrous.”
Perhaps Zarif’s greatest punch line was when he claimed that the Middle East has been “facing a very serious threat of extremism, of violence, and that Iran has “been a force for stability in this region.”
Really? Maybe Curry should have asked about Iran’s funding and supplying of weapons to the terrorist organizations Hamas and Hezbollah, it’s destabilizing influence in Lebanon, its support for the brutal Assad regime, its murderous activities even in America’s own backyard, Argentina, and the hand-holding and cooperation with North Korea.
Curry did give a little pushback to this pipe dream of a peaceful Iran. She invoked Netanyahu’s statement in his speech to Congress on March 3, when he said Iran “has genocidal ambitions against the Jewish people.”
In a runner-up for best punch line, Zarif then invoked the Purim story, and claimed it was Netanyahu who does not know his own “scripture,” because he said (wrongly) that the Book of Esther is in the Old Testament, and in that scripture it is the Persian King who saves the Jewish people. From there, Zarif leaps over to the fact that there are Jews who live in Iran today who are not being “annihilated,” so Netanyahu is just plain wrong, according to Zarif.
In another effort at pushback NBC’s Curry produced a tweet from the Ayatollah Khameini from seven months ago. The Ayatollah tweeted, referring to Israel: “This barbaric wolf-like and infanticidal regime of Israel which spares no crime, has no cure but to be annihilated.”
What about that, Mr. Foreign Minister?
Zarif would have none of it, claiming that wanting to annihilate Netanyahu who has “butchered innocent children in Gaza” is not the same thing as wanting to annihilate Jews.
Then Zarif really got wound up and began blaming the Israeli regime for having caused the “oldest crisis in our region,” of having “aggressed upon all its neighbors,” of “occupying people’s territory,” and of “violating human rights on a daily basis.” Zarif doubled down, saying that this Israel regime “should be annihilated,” because it is a threat to the region, one that engages in the killing of innocent children.
But, Zarif said, “Iran has not invaded any other country. We have not threatened to use force. Just exactly the opposite of Israel. Israel threatens to use force against Iran almost on a daily basis.”
So, there you have the world according to Zarif. The Middle East is in danger because of the aggressor, the occupier, the evil nation – Israel is the one that has been threatening all its neighbors, while Iran is the stabilizing force for good in the region.
Why would anyone hesitate to sign a nuclear weapons agreement with these people?
Lori Lowenthal Marcus