Zarif: Multilateral agreement cannot be implemented unilaterally

Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif slammed the US withdrawal from the JCPOA, saying that a multilateral agreement cannot be implemented unilaterally.

In an exclusive interview with New York Times which was published on Thursday he added, "Paragraph 36 of JCPOA is a clear example that we negotiated this deal with the full understanding that we could not trust the commitment of the West."

His remarks are as follows:

The nuclear deal you negotiated, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, is now in jeopardy. Do you regret trusting the United States and the West?

I believe JCPOA was and remains the best POSSIBLE agreement on the nuclear issue. None of the participants were happy with all elements of the deal, but it addressed the major concerns of all. It was negotiated by all with open eyes about what was possible and what was not. We did not neglect anything. We accepted the reality that we could not resolve all our differences in this deal and we agreed to leave them out.

It is also important to note that, contrary to public statements by its detractors on all sides, JCPOA was not built on trust. It was indeed based on explicit recognition of mutual mistrust. That is why it is so long and detailed. Paragraph 36 of JCPOA is a clear example that we negotiated this deal with the full understanding that we could not trust the commitment of the West. We are exercising that option within the deal right now, which can indeed prevent the deal from total collapse, which will be detrimental to the interest of all including the United States.

(Paragraph 36 provided a mechanism to resolve disputes and allows one side, under certain circumstances, to stop complying with the deal if the other side is out of compliance.)

Do you think that the nuclear deal can be salvaged? Or do you anticipate continued erosion since President Trump withdrew from the agreement?

We will remain committed to the deal as long as the remaining participants (EU, France, Germany, UK, Russia and China) observe the deal. Survival or collapse of the JCPOA depends on the ability and willingness of all parties to invest in this undertaking. In a nutshell, a multilateral agreement cannot be implemented unilaterally.

Has this turn of events jeopardized your career as Iran’s top diplomat?

My preferred career has always been teaching. I will resume that sooner or later, with more to share with my students.

Officials of the Trump administration have talked about designating you as a target of economic sanctions. What will it mean if Washington sanctions you?

Everyone who knows me knows that I, or my family, do not own any property outside Iran. I personally do not even have a bank account outside Iran. Iran is my entire life and my sole commitment. So I have no personal problem with possible sanctions.

The only impact--and possibly the sole objective--of a possible designation would be to limit my ability to communicate. And I doubt that would serve anyone. Certainly, it would limit the possibility of informed decision making in Washington.

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