Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif was interviewed by Iranian journalist Mehdi Nasiri in a video that was uploaded to the Arman Media YouTube channel on December 9, 2020. Zarif said that the United States has forfeited its rights according to the JCPOA because it has withdrawn from the agreement, however it is still obliged to abide by the agreement and must lift all its sanctions on Iran. Zarif joked that he wished the U.S. would leave Planet Earth, just like it withdrew from the JCPOA. He said that President Elect Biden will be obligated to return to the JCPOA. Zarif added that America "owes" Iran for arming other countries in the region. He explained that the Western powers tried to include Iran's missile program and its regional activity in the JCPOA but failed and had to compromise about it. Hence, Zarif added, they do not have the option to demand the inclusion of this issue now.
The Iranian FM added that he cannot conceive of a situation in which Iran would officially recognize Israel. Furthermore, he said that Iran's strategy for confronting the issue of Israel would not be to throw the "kikes" into the sea or to initiate a military attack against it, but rather it has suggested to the U.N. that a popular referendum, including Palestinians in the land and in the diaspora, would resolve this matter.
Mohammad-Javad Zarif: "The JCPOA was approved by the Security Council. All members of the United Nations, whether permanent or temporary, are obligated to implement the Security Council's decision, as per Article 25 of the United Nations Charter. By leaving the JCPOA, the U.S. has forfeited its rights, but not its obligations. America is still obligated to lift its sanctions, and to refrain from creating obstacles, because it has remained a member of the U.N. since leaving the JCPOA. Of course, it had the option to [leave the U.N.], like it left UNESCO and other organizations. Allah willing, it will also leave Planet Earth... Don't forget this legal status. This is why Mr. Biden's American will be obligated to rejoin the JCPOA, unless it chooses to break the law and mounts an insurgency... It is [UNSC] Resolution 2231 – not the JCPOA – that the U.S. must return to.
"American is in no position to set conditions for its return [to the JCPOA], or for the restoration of its rights when it comes to the JCPOA's implementation. In addition, the government... Mr. Biden's government officials know that the subjects that do not appear in the JCPOA [i.e. Iran's missiles and regional involvement] are not absent by accident, but rather by decision. This means that we have debated the subject of the missiles. When they raised the issue of our missiles, we said: 'What do you have to say about the weapons that Israel or Saudi Arabia possess? Are you saying that Iran should be denied its defensive capabilities? Do you have the right to do that?' When they raised the issue of our regional [involvement], we said: 'What do you have to say about Israel?' And they responded: 'We want to repair your relations with the region.' We said: 'Repair your own relations with the region.'
"Last year, they sold $67 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia. They sold over $22 billion worth of weapons to the UAE. They are now selling F-35s to the UAE. Nothing stops them when it comes to selling weapons to these countries. Are they willing to decrease their sale of weapons to the region? Of course not. So if the [missiles and regional intervention] do not appear in the JCPOA, it's because they compromised on these issues. They failed to put them in the JCPOA. They do not have that option. They are the ones who owe us, because of their policies of arming [others] and their policies in the region. They owe the Iranian people. We must not feel inferior.
"Recently, Mr. Trump wanted..."
Interviewer: "It was in The New York Times."
Mohammad -Javad Zarif: "It was written today... He wanted to attack Iran. Why didn't he attack it? Because they believe... They stated this clearly... They said that if they attack Fordo, they would delay Iran's nuclear program by two years, but would also guarantee that the Iranians would pursue a nuclear bomb."
Interviewer: "My next question is regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran's official position towards Israel, the regime that occupies Jerusalem. The question is: What is our strategy for confronting this country? Is Iran's strategy to wipe out Israel? Of course, we will never initiate an attack against Israel. This has been said many times, but we are waiting for the Israelis to act, and are then ready to wipe them out. This is one way of confronting Israel. But another way to confront it would be to ask the Israelis or the international organizations to hold a popular referendum that would include everybody, including the Palestinians and the refugees in the diaspora, and this is how the final fate of this issue could be determined. This is a [viable] position. To complete my question, do you think that international relations could reach the point that by recognizing Israel, the tensions would disappear or decrease?"
Mohammad-Javad Zarif: "I state this unequivocally: Personally, I cannot think of any circumstances under which we would officially recognize Israel. I am not saying that it's impossible, but I cannot imagine under what circumstances we would do this."
Interviewer: "Even if it is done by international organizations, and is the internationally accepted thing [to do]?"
Mohammad-Javad Zarif: "Yes. For them, Israel has been a member of the United Nations since 1948.
"This is a different stance held by the Islamic Republic, and I think there is no problem for it to have its own stance. That's one point. Second, what is our solution? The honorable Leader [Khamenei] has expressed the solution. We're not talking about throwing the kikes into the sea, or about a military attack, or about suicide operations. The Leader has said what the solution is, and it has been presented to the United Nations. Our solution is a popular referendum, as you mentioned."