Zarif’s Double Talk
Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s announcement that work on the Arak heavy water facility would continue despite the Geneva deal epitomizes Tehran’s overall strategic approach to diplomacy: the ends justify the means.
As I’ve emphasized in previous posts, Iran’s diplomatic infrastructure serves an array of that country’s strategic interests – from the cultivation of subversion cells to the search for uranium deposits. The approach taken – sweet talk, deception or outright lying – depends on the circumstance and location, but the objective is never in doubt.
So too with the Geneva nuclear deal. As proven again now by Zarif, while the road to the goal may be long and tiresome, reneging on an understanding can be instantaneous – and usually followed by Iranian accusations meant to justify its violation. No one is better at this than the seasoned diplomat Zarif.
Placating Hardliners? Really?
Zarif knows that his comments on Arak will seem to the West as if Tehran is not serious in its commitment and are bound to create tension. And yet, that is exactly what he did. Why?
The most widespread answer is that although Zarif returned from Geneva to a “hero’s welcome” (worth watching the video) by the people and Supreme Leader Khamenei himself, hardliners in Tehran were not thrilled, calling it a “poisoned chalice” that would lead Iran’s nuclear program to a “self shut-down”. And so, the thinking goes, he had to placate the hardliners.
But for Iranian diplomacy, as embodied in this case by Zarif, the situation is actually most convenient.
Remember that Iran’s number one diplomat has one goal: to create a safe haven around the nuclear program, facilitating its continued development while simultaneously achieving sanctions relief. As part of their modus operandi in this context, Zarif and his team can explain to members of the international community that the Arak comments are meant to deal with the hardliners at home. They know that all too many will accept that as inevitable collateral damage.
In short, a win-win situation for Iranian diplomacy as it enjoys its finest hour in protecting Tehran’s strategic interests.
Zarif certainly deserves all the credit for his mastery.
- New US sanctions will spell end of Iran nuclear deal: Zarif (theiranproject.com)
- Iran will continue construction at Arak nuclear site: Zarif (dailystar.com.lb)
- Iran’s Zarif stretches Gulf trip to include UAE (theiranproject.com)
- Iranophobia scenario has gone downhill: Zarif (theiranproject.com)