Sep 23, 2019, 12:38 PM
Journalist ID: 1842
News Code: 83486979
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Initiator of war on Iran cannot finish when it wants

Tehran, Sept 23, IRNA – Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif told CBS News said that initiator of war on Iran cannot finish it when it wants and Iran will widen its scope.

"I'm not confident that we can avoid a war. I'm confident that we will not start one. But I'm confident that whoever starts one will not be the one who finishes it," Zarif told CBS' Margaret Brennan on Sunday.

"Well not necessarily, because the United States is under obligation, being the host of the UN headquarters to issue visas to member states. So they made it very clear in a letter that they attached to my visa that I'm not eligible to get a visa, but they're doing it on a waiver basis. So they want me to know that I'm not supposed to be here," said Zarif to the host of "Face the Nation", answering a question about being personally sanctioned under US law but, at the same time, sitting in midtown Manhattan.

The US move is "posturing", Zarif said, "When the war in Yemen erupted over four years ago, we called for a ceasefire, immediate negotiations, humanitarian assistance, and a formation of a broad-based government."

"Unfortunately US allies- Saudi Arabia, believed that they could win this war militarily within four weeks. That's why they didn't accept our offer to mediate between them and the others and to bring about a negotiated solution. Now four and a half years after that, we see that all that military equipment that the United States provided to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, all the military logistical support that the United States and some other Western countries provided, did not help defeat a group of people, the Yemenis, who are basically cut off from the rest of the world."

Regarding Yemen's attacks Arabian-American Oil Company (Aramco) and US accusing Iran to have something to do with them, Foreign Minister of Iran said, "It is difficult for the United States to explain why its state-of-the-art equipment was not able to intercept these weapons."

Houthis have accepted responsibility of the attacks, Zarif added, "If it were a false flag operation, if somebody else did it, then they should look for that culprit. It wasn't Iran. And if the United States believes it wasn't the Yemenis then they should look for who did it."

Zarif said that he didn’t know who did it, he added, "I think the Yemenis have declared responsibility for it. They have even shown evidence that they launched this attack. So I should take it as that."

"But if the United States believes that the Yemenis were not behind it, first of all why did the Saudis retaliate yesterday against the Yemenis? Why did they break the UN-brokered ceasefire in Hodeidah and retaliated against the Yemenis? They did that because they all know where it came from."

 Zarif said that the way the conflict ends is "through an end to the killing of innocent children, women, elderly that has been going on."

"100,000 people have been killed. Over two million cases of cholera in Yemen. Now everybody is concerned about an attack on an oil refinery which, based on the latest information that I have, didn't even have a single casualty. Hundred thousand innocent human beings not enough but a refinery is an imminent threat," which means "the moral compass is totally lost," he said.

The CBS host claimed that investigators can reverse-engineer those missiles to figure out where they were launched from Iran. Zarif said, "Let them do that because it would take a miracle for them to claim that because it didn't come from Iran."

Zarif continued that the Yemenis have claimed that they have the technology and the weapons are Yemeni-made.

Brennan also said that Saudi Arabia allowed in reporters to the oil facilities to look at the damage and there is evidence the attacks came from the north – Iran or Iraq.

Zarif answered, "There is no evidence to that effect. The Saudis made a show but they could not prove it. Now at the end of the day they claim that the weapons were Iranian but they couldn't show even that. They've been showing that- a lot of lies. You heard the other day from Secretary Tillerson that some people believe that they can lie President Trump into a war."

"And they did."

Zarof said that anybody who does an impartial investigation will reach the conclusion that Iran didn’t play a role in the attack.

Commenting on the Saudis' claim that citizens from the region are being recruited by Iran to carry out attacks, Foreign Minister Zarif said,"It means that they are backtracking from the initial allegation that it's coming from Iran. They are saying that it may have come from somewhere else but it was based on citizens being recruited by Iran to do this. So a lie falls apart sooner or later."

"They were not Iranian-backed attacks." 

Neither were they Iranian-backed attacks nor they were launched from Iraq by an Iranian-backed group or by any group, Zarif said.

Answering a question about US President Donald Trump's offer to meet with Iran's President Hassan Rouhani without preconditions, Zarif said, "The United States has been reluctant to engage in what is required."

"Let me give you an example that President Trump would easily understand …. I buy a building from you and somebody inherits your company from you next year and he comes and tells me, "I didn't sell that building to you. I need a higher price and a worse building." Would you buy it? Would anybody in, to use President Trump's word, in any history buy this building?"

"We didn't have a revolution in the United States. President Trump inherited a government from another administration that was legally elected as a United States government. And this agreement has been endorsed by the Security Council. This agreement is in a Security Council resolution. Now last I heard, the United States sits in the Security Council as a permanent member.  It has not withdrawn. It withdrew from Human Rights Council. It withdrew from UNESCO, but hasn't withdrawn from the Security Council."

Touching on President Trump's inviting him to the Oval Office, Zarif said that he will not meet him "for a photo opportunity", but, "We're ready to talk but talk in terms of something that is not going to be valid only for the next one and a half year or five and a half years. We need to talk about something that is permanent. That would last."

"We already have an agreement. We talked. I have talked to what was a United States secretary of state and the United States secretary of energy for hours upon hours of painful negotiations. You were there in Vienna. You remember. These were difficult negotiations. It wasn't just a two-page document that we signed so that we could do another two-page document."

Zarif said that the US can return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, "a deal that exists now."

"There is a negotiating room. There is a negotiating table. Wednesday at 8:30 in the morning. There will be six- four plus one plus one- six foreign ministers and one high representative of the European Union."

Zarif said "there's no reason" to meet with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo outside of that, "basically Secretary Pompeo is prevented by law from meeting me because he designates me."

Regarding the extradition of prisoners with the US, Zarif said that he offered to exchange prisoners during the last General Assembly in September 2018.

He added that the Americans in Iranian prisons are "at least … accused of something".

"There are Iranians in the United States who have been held in captivity for nine months without even charges."

He added that one of the Iranian prisoners in the US is a world-renowned biology professor who had a visa to enter the US but his visa was revoked as he was flying into the United States.

He's been in jail since last November or December. Why don't they release him as a sign of good gesture? So at least he can go to the grave of his mother, who has just died, Zarif added.

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