Tehran’s ambassadors to the UN are a privileged class. First, because they hold one of the top – if not the top – post in Iran’s foreign service. Second, because they belong to an elite group of Iranian officials who studied and worked outside of Iran – and who know how to speak to the West.
It is therefore no surprise that current Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who served as his country’s UN ambassador from 2002-2007, and Mohammad Khazaee – who replaced him in 2007 (and is still there) – both studied in the US, and come off as so cool and smart.
Underneath their polished ways, however, lurks a darker side.
Let’s start with Zarif, a central figure in President Hassan Rouhani’s delegation to the 68th session of the UN General Assembly in New York. Few of those wining and dining him probably recall that while UN ambassador back in 2006 he was involved in a defamation lawsuit filed by the pro-regime lobby in the US, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), against Iranian–American journalist Hassan Daioleslam (a case which NIAC eventually lost).
The incident is certainly worth recalling, as made clear by documents brought to light during the case – include e-mails between Zarif and NIAC head Trita Parsi , which clearly indicate that the two were collaborating to the point of breaking US information and tax laws.
In effect, the Iranian ambassador took advantage of his formal position – to handle his country’s diplomatic affairs at the UN – in order to coordinate the activities of the pro-regime lobby in the US.
Zarif’s not alone in implementing this sort of modus operandi. Published documentation indicates that his successor, Khazaee, not only continued the cozy relationship with Parsi – he also hasn’t shied away from breaking US law when it serves Tehran’s interests.
Indeed, Khazaee is suspected of attempting to circumvent US sanction laws in at least two cases during his term:
- · The Alavi Foundation case – Khazaee was implicated in a law suit for his active and personal involvement in managing the non-profit foundation, which served as a front for Iran’s state-owned Bank Melli – sanctioned by the US for its connection to Tehran’s nuclear program.
- · The Ali Amirnazmi case – Khazaee was implicated for his involvement in a sanctions-busting attempt to transfer a sensitive business from the US to Iran (Amirnazmi was eventually convicted).
No country’s diplomats appear to be as skilled in maneuvering around diplomatic immunity as the Iranians. And nobody knows how to do it better than Zarif – now Tehran’s top diplomat – who clearly taught his successor Khazaee well.
- FM says Iran willing to build trust with U.S. regarding nuclear issue (en.trend.az)
- Iran Sporadically Uncensors Social Media for Its Leaders (valleywag.gawker.com)