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Zarif Says Iran Not Seeking War As It Launches Satellite

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during the second day of the three-day Raisina Dialogue conference in New Delhi, January 9, 2019.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during the second day of the three-day Raisina Dialogue conference in New Delhi, January 9, 2019.

Iran is not seeking "clash or war" with the US, says the Islamic Republic's Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif.

In an interview with Iran's Arabic language al-Vefagh newspaper published on Monday, January 14, Zarif maintained, while Iran is not seeking war, but if "a group" decides to make a "foolish move", Iran is far greater to react to a few small Arab countries in the region.

Zarif’s comments come as Iran has looked more defiant in the past one week, with numerous officials saying it will never bow to pressure.

In addition, Iran finally launched a satellite, albeit without success, that Western powers had warned Tehran not to try. Both the U.S. and France specifically had warned Tehran that a launch would violate United Nations resolution 2231, barring Iran to engage in missile technology with the potential to carry nuclear weapons.

Zarif’s comments echoed remarks by the Islamic Republic's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last year, insisting that there would be no war (between Iran and U.S.) unless some groups decide to make a foolish move or laying a trap for themselves and their allies in the region.

​On Sunday, September 2, Khamenei had asserted that war was unlikely but called on Iran’s armed forces to boost their defense capacities.

A day before these remarks, Iran had announced plans to boost its ballistic and cruise missile capacity and acquire modern fighter planes and submarines to solidify its defenses as the country faced increased tensions with the United States.

Nevertheless, on December 12, 2018, Khamenei accused the United States of attempting to plunge Iran into chaos by trying to stage a civil war in the country by imposing economic sanctions and applying security issues.

"The U.S. is planning to cause a civil war by creating divisions in Iran through economic sanctions and security issues," Khamenei reiterated.

He also cautioned the Iranian armed forces to be vigilant against the U.S. "deceitfulness", since Washington might have plans for the next Iranian new year (beginning March 21).

Speaking to al-Vefaq, Zarif has repeated Khamenei's remarks, reiterating, "We are not after creating tension, and not seeking war or clash, but, Washington and some regional governments follow tension-generating policies."

Zarif has also claimed, "While the Americans send messages, calling us to talks, they were the ones who left negotiations."

Dismissing Washington's calls for talks as "propaganda" or "against the interests of the region", Zarif noted that such proposals are only based on the U.S. interests.

Meanwhile, Zarif argued that Americans, during Barack Obama's presidency, were very keen to talk to Iran about the region, and never hid their eagerness to do so. "The situation is not the same with the Trump Administration," Zarif averred.

Washington withdrew from JCPOA last May and reimposed two batches of sanctions on Iran, one after another.

President Trump and his administration are seeking new deals with the Islamic Republic which encompasses not only nuclear issues but Tehran's missile program and its role in the region.

Nevertheless, the Islamic Republic's authorities, including President Hassan Rouhani, have repeatedly described Washington's exit from JCPOA as "wrong" and rejected any negotiation with the U.S.

Moreover, the U.S. educated Zarif asserted that nobody has gained any favor for the region through cooperation with Washington.

Dismissing that Iran is seeking to become a regional superpower, Zarif said, the Islamic Republic's strategy is "cooperation with its neighboring Arab and non-Arab countries, nonetheless, it appears that some Arab countries, regardless of Tehran's policies, like to tell the world that they have disputes with Iran."

He added that it is important for Iran to expand ties with the neighbors but said it doesn't mean that Iran approves of everything they do, like Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Oman, with which Iran has the best relations with.

"We didn’t approve of the visit and we let our Omani friends know about that, too--- Our ties with Qatar are really good, but we didn’t approve of their policies in Syria," Zarif told al-Vefaq.