Iran’s Zarif: It’s time for US to choose between cooperation and confrontation


Iran’s Zarif: It’s time for US to choose between cooperation and confrontation
By JPOST.COM STAFF/04/20/2015/

It is time for the US and its allies to choose between cooperation and confrontation, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in reference to current nuclear negotiations with the West in a Monday New York Times op-ed he penned. “We agreed on parameters to remove any doubt about the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program,” Zarif wrote, claiming that the Iranian people had done their part to facilitate an agreement, and now the onus is on the US and its allies to follow suit.

“It is time for the United States and its Western allies to make the choice between cooperation and confrontation, between negotiations and grandstanding, and between agreement and coercion,” he said. Iran and the world powers reached a framework agreement earlier this month, aimed at setting the groundwork for a comprehensive agreement that will roll back Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief by a June 30 deadline. The sides have disagreed publicly about which parameters were agreed to in the deal, particularly whether sanctions will be removed immediately, as Iran has demanded, or gradually, as the world powers want.

Zarif poised the Iranian nuclear issue as a “manufactured crisis,” a symptom of a larger problem, which is instability in the Persian Gulf region, particularly Yemen. The Iranian foreign minister accused the US and its allies of enabling the growth of al-Qaida and its ideological siblings, such as Islamic State, in both Yemen and Syria. The US has offered logistic and intelligence support to a Saudi-led coalition of Arab states that have bombed Yemen in the last three weeks in a push against Iranian-backed Shi’ite Houti rebels who are attempting to take over the country.

Zarif called for dialogue among relevant regional stakeholders with the help of the United Nations to solve the turmoil in the region. “A regional dialogue could help promote understanding and interaction at the levels of government, the private sector and civil society, and lead to agreement on a broad spectrum of issues, including confidence- and security-building measures; combating terrorism, extremism and sectarianism; ensuring freedom of navigation and the free flow of oil and other resources; and protection of the environment. A regional dialogue could eventually include more formal nonaggression and security cooperation arrangements,” Zarif said.

Shi’ite-ruled Iran and Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia have fought for influence in the region in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, helping to fuel the instability that has plagued the area since 2011’s Arab Spring uprisings.