At the Iran nuclear talks, one of the chief fixtures has been Iran’s foreign minister and chief negotiator, Javad Zarif. He’s the bearded fellow you’ve seen in the endless photo-ops of the murk-shrouded talks. He usually shows up flanked by dignitaries, in various permutations, of the six world powers, including the U.S., who in the current incarnation of the nuclear talks have been haggling with Iran over its nuclear program since cutting an interim deal in Nov. 2013. That was more than 19 months ago, which in terms of the amnesiac modern 24-hour news cycle means they have been talking since pretty much the beginning of recorded time. Zarif does a lot of the talking.
Zarif has kept up with his other chores by jetting back and forth between the nuclear talks, in venues such as Vienna and Geneva, and his appointments elsewhere — such as his pilgrimage early last year to the grave in Lebanon of the late Hezbollah terrorist mastermind Imad Mugniyah, or his chipper meeting in Tehran with an envoy of North Korea (you can read more about some of his travels, to Syria, Moscow, etc., here). Educated in the U.S., Zarif was based for many years in New York as one of Iran’s former ambassadors to the United Nations (where along with his activities at the UN, he secretly abused his diplomatic privileges by overseeing a sanctions-violating multi-million-dollar money-laundering operation in Manhattan for the Iranian government, per orders of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei).
Zarif speaks fluent English — as buttery smooth as Viennese chocolate, but wrapped around an astounding collection of demands and lies. Zarif peddles statements as warped, in their way, as the buffoonish fictions of Saddam Hussein’s old spokesman, Baghdad Bob. Except where Baghdad Bob was patently ridiculous, Zarif is far more dangerous. His statements come with slick packaging, the polished veneer of a regime that has been repeatedly discovered building illicit nuclear facilities and indisputably sponsors terrorism and harbors terrorists. His statements also come framed these days by the eager attentions of U.S. top diplomats, who appear desperate to cajole Iran into a deal, whatever it takes.
Zarif is now in Vienna, where Secretary of State John Kerry has been parked since June 26, trying to entice Iran to close a nuclear bargain. Having over-run three self-imposed deadlines since last July, the Iran nuclear talks are nearing a fourth deadline this Tuesday, July 7. From the negotiators at Vienna’s Palais Coburg, there are hints that this time they might just clinch the deal.
And what kind of a deal might that turn out to be?
In a column headlined “The worst agreement in U.S. diplomatic history,” columnist Charles Krauthammer makes an excellent case that the devil is not in the details, but in the entire arrangement: “Obama will get his ‘legacy.’ Kerry will get his Nobel. And Iran will get the bomb.” (I’d add that it’s entirely conceivable the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, repository of some of the world’s most absurd notions about what produces peace, would confer a joint prize on Kerry and Zarif… or maybe give Obama his second prize, to share with Iran’s Khamenei? ). Though if you want to get into the details of the emerging deal, they are also appalling — for instance, here’s the latest paper from the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security, on how Iran appears to be already in violation of even the interim deal. And here’s a story from Reuters, on how Obama’s administration has been running interference — for Iran.
Now, speaking from Vienna to the cameras of Iran’s PressTV news service, up pops Zarif, to lecture us on “Getting to yes.” As Zarif tells it, Iran is dedicated to fighting “violent extremism,” and sanctions on Iran have done nothing but “harmed innocents and antagonized a peaceful and forgiving nation.”
Ah yes, the peace and forgiveness that has been the hallmark of Iran’s Islamic Republic… from the American diplomatic hostages of Iran’s 1979 revolution, to the many arms and missile deals with North Korea, the participation in Pakistan’s illicit A.Q. Khan nuclear network, the support for the terrorists of Hamas and Hezbollah, the roadside bombs that have killed and maimed American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, the nuclear facilities built secretly on an Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps base at Qom, the weapons and support for Syria’s bloody Assad regime, the domestic beatings and slaughter of Iran’s own protestors, the tortures of Evin prison, the censorship, the executions of minors, the threats to obliterate Israel, the chants of “Death to America.”
As I said, Baghdad Bob was an amateur in the defense of his patron tyranny. Iran’s regime has sent us mouthpieces more adept. If you want to watch a pro, here’s the video, on YouTube, of Zarif, on Iran and its nuclear escapades, including what is in this context a distinctly sinister phrase: “Getting to yes.”