Aletho News


With eye on Pompeo, Zarif reaches New York

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | April 23, 2018

As the May 12 deadline draws close for Trump to waive the sanctions against Iran, as required under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or (JCPOA), Tehran has carried the war of words into the enemy camp. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrived in New York over the weekend on a six-day visit, ostensibly to attend High-Level Meeting on Peace-building and Sustaining Peace at the United Nations on April 24-25.

But in reality he is on a Track 1.5 mission to reach out to the US audience as well as to be simply available on call on American soil through next week when the leaders of two key allies of the US – French President Emmanuel Macron an German Chancellor – are scheduled to meet Trump in Washington to discuss policy options with regard to the JCPOA, amongst other things.

The big question is whether President Donald Trump would instruct his top officials to establish direct contact with Zarif in New York on the sidelines of the UN meet. Tehran is drawing encouragement from the remarks last Thursday by Mike Pompeo, CIA Director and Secretary of State-designate at his confirmation hearing in the US Senate.

Pompeo told the US senators, “I want to fix this (JCPOA) deal. That’s the objective. I think that’s in the best interests.” Alongside, he acknowledged that Iran was not pursuing a nuclear weapon program even before the nuclear deal; nor will it be in future. Pompeo emphasized that as CIA Director, he didn’t find any evidences that Iran violated the nuclear deal and he believes that Tehran cannot expand its program even shortly after a hypothetical US withdrawal from the JCPOA. Even more intriguing was Pompeo’s remark,

  • If there’s no chance that we can fix it (nuclear deal), I will recommend to the president that we do our level best to work with our allies to achieve a better outcome and a better deal. Even after May 12, there’s still much diplomatic work to be done.

Pompeo signaled that Trump may not make a final decision by the May 12 deadline and may instead opt to continue the consultations with European allies with a view to “fixing the flaws of the JCPOA”.

A commentary in the influential Tehran Times noted on Saturday that “the White House hasn’t come to a determined and clear decision on how to deal with the JCPOA yet,” The Iranians never branded Trump as a one-dimensional man. Besides, Tehran is greatly experienced in moving past US rhetoric.

Zarif fired his opening salvo soon after reaching New York when he told CBS’ Face the Nation moderator Margaret Brennan in a fascinating interview that Tehran has kept a number of options ready, “including options that would involve resuming (the nuclear program) at a much greater speed,” but will “make the necessary decision when we see fit.” (Full transcript is here.)

Zarif underscored that Tehran cannot be expected to “unilaterally and one-sidedly implement the deal.” Plainly put, Iran will not accept any unilateral move to scrap the JCPOA. President Hassan Rouhani has also warned from Tehran that the range of Iran’s policy options include “what they (US) cannot imagine.”

Interestingly, Zarif also told the CBS that Tehran is open to a prisoner swap if there is a “change of attitude” on the part of the US. Zarif said, “The United States needs to approach this from a position of dealing with another sovereign government. And if that approach led to change, then the United States would see a difference.”

Pressed by Brennan on whether the Iranians were open to an exchange, Zarif offered an opening: “It is a possibility, certainly from a humanitarian perspective, but it requires a change in attitude.” Zarif just signaled that he’s ready to meet with American counterparts.

Trump has a job cut out for Pompeo. To be sure, Israel must be panicking.

April 23, 2018 - Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Good report. Zarif to me exudes the aura of a true, measured, professional diplomat, along the lines of Russia’s Lavrov.

    I note “Israel” in the final paragraph. Let ’em panic. My question for Pompeo: If confirmed, what will be your diplomatic initiative regarding the awful plight of the Palestinians, who will not be folding their tents and capitulating to the satanic Zionists on your or any other terms besides justice, human rights, liberation and peace?

    Palestine Is Still THE Issue!


    Comment by roberthstiver | April 23, 2018 | Reply

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