United States Institute of Peace

The Iran Primer

Event: Rubik’s Cube™ of a Final Agreement

            The clock is ticking on a nuclear deal with Iran. The deadline is July 20. An unprecedented coalition of eight Washington think tanks is hosting three discussions on the pivotal diplomacy to coincide with the last three rounds of talks. The first event — "The Rubik’s Cube™ of a Final Agreement" — on May 13 explored the disparate issues to be resolved and the many formulations for potential solutions. Speakers included (from left to right) Colin Kahl, Robert Einhorn, Joe Cirincione and Alireza Nader.

            The coalition includes the U.S. Institute of Peace, RAND, the Woodrow Wilson Center, the Arms Control Association, the Center for a New American Security, the Stimson Center, the Partnership for a Secure America, the Ploughshares Fund, and staff from the Brookings Institution and the Center for Non-Proliferation Studies.
           The following is a webcast of the event and key takeaways from the speakers' remarks.
Robert Einhorn 
• A final deal is possible, but very hard to get by the July 20 deadline.
• A key requirement for a deal is implementing a monitoring mechanism that can quickly detect any breakout steps towards a bomb.
• Iran wants to expand its uranium enrichment capabilities while the P5+1 wants to limit them.
• Iran could produce enough uranium to fuel a weapon in two months. Breakout time needs to be lengthened.
• Iran needs to understand that it will pay a heavy price if it violates a deal by moving to produce a bomb.
• The United States will probably have to demonstrate its Gulf allies and Israel that it is still resolutely committed to their security.
Alireza Nader
• Mutual trust is not a requirement for a successful deal.  Stringent inspections and firm commitments to sanctions relief can make up for the trust gap.
• So far, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has supported negotiations and given President Hassan Rouhani considerable space to maneuver. Both are interested in lifting sanctions.
• Both Iran and the United States have vested interests in resolving the nuclear dispute.
• Sanctions aren’t necessarily empowering Iran’s government and hurting the population. The situation is actually more complicated. The government is running out of money and some people are making money off sanctions.
• The United States could still have lots of problems with the Islamic Republic even after a deal.
• Iranian hardliners have accused their negotiators of selling the country’s nuclear rights. Ultra-conservatives fear a nuclear deal because they think it will open Iran’s culture to more Western influence.
• President Hassan Rouhani wants a better relationship with the United States but many Iranians are not ready. Building trust will be a decades-long process.
Joe Cirincione
• Every aspect of the talks is difficult, but we have never been closer to an agreement.
• The nuclear deal is step number one. Afterwards, Washington and Tehran could cooperate on shared concerns in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and elsewhere.
• This deal is not about trust. This is a contract.
• Iran needs a face-saving way to frame the deal because it has invested so much in its nuclear program. A deal would need to assure Iran that sanctions will really be lifted. 
• Imposing sanctions is much easier than lifting them. So the deal will likely be an action for action arrangement.
• Iran’s ballistic missiles are not the list of items to negotiate. Adding too many items to the list might overload the cart.
Colin Kahl
• The two sides differ on the preferred length of the agreement. The United States and others are pushing for decades while Iran is pressing for a few years.
• Iran’s enrichment capability will likely need to be capped at five percent, the level suitable for civilian nuclear power. Weapons grade is 90 percent. 
• A nuclear deal must be sellable in both the United States and Iran.
• Tehran will need to account for possible military dimension of its program and what experiments it conducted.
• The concern about the heavy water reactor at Arak is that it could produce one to two bombs worth of plutonium a year if completed.
•Iran needs about one year to construct a crude nuclear device and then a few more years to fit it onto a ballistic missile.

State Department Briefing on Eve of Talks

            On May 13, a senior U.S. official cautioned that the beginning of the drafting process does not necessarily mean a nuclear agreement is imminent. “We do not know if Iran will be able to make the tough decisions they must to ensure the world that they will not obtain a nuclear weapon,” said the official in a background briefing on the eve of talks in Vienna between Iran and the world’s six major powers – Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States. The following are excerpts.

As we’ve said previously, at this round we will begin drafting specific language for the comprehensive plan of action. Everyone has approached these talks with seriousness and with professionalism. It also appears that everyone has come to the table wanting a diplomatic solution, but having the intent doesn’t mean it will necessarily happen. Quite frankly, this is very, very, difficult. I would caution people that just because we will be drafting it certainly doesn’t mean an agreement is imminent or that we are certain to eventually get to a resolution of these issues.
There are a range of complicated issues to address. And we do not know if Iran will be able to make the tough decisions they must to ensure the world that they will not obtain a nuclear weapon and that their program is for entirely peaceful purposes, as they have said. 
As this process moves forward, there will be a lot of noise out there – some of you might even make – about issues that may be under consideration, people speculating about where we’ve made progress and what the final language on any one issue might look like. There will also be speculation about where the sticking points remain. People will try to read the tea leaves and guess who’s offering what, who’s accepting what, and what is actually on the table for any given topic. I cannot advise you strongly enough not to buy into that kind of speculation.   
And I’d also remind people of a very, very critical point: No one can define this agreement by any one element – any element that is under discussion. And no one can predict what the overall comprehensive plan of action will look like from dissecting any one piece of it in isolation. As we’ve said for quite some time now, and I’ve noticed others have begun to pick it up, this process is like solving a Rubik’s Cube. There isn’t only one possible solution to providing the international community with the assurances we need that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively peaceful, that Iran will not obtain a nuclear weapon, and that there will be appropriate verification and transparency. Put simply, what we are working on is a package, not a checklist. And how we deal with each individual piece affects the overall eventual outcome.
We are quite focused on the July 20th date and we expect to be working every single moment until then. If you remember when we were negotiating the Joint Plan of Action, we were hashing out differences over individual words up until the very last minute, and many of you wrote a few days before it was done, when ministers came to Geneva and then departed, that it wasn’t going to happen, only to come back again and get the deal done.
As we’ve said, this process is far, far more difficult even than the Joint Plan of Action. But we’re committed to undertaking this effort because we know the diplomatic path is the one with the best chance of resolving our concerns in a peaceful way with Iran, and that is all that we all want to do. Finally, before I take your questions, again, speaking to the importance of the package of the combination of elements, nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. The only percentage that matters is 100 percent, and nothing is agreed until everyone agrees to it.
QUESTION: Since last meeting, the tension with Russia [over Ukraine] has reached yet another level. Do you have the feeling that it might impact the unity of the 5+1?
SENIOR U.S. OFFICIAL: All I can tell you is that our Russian colleagues have focused in on this negotiation with the same seriousness of purpose that everyone else at the table has.
QUESTION: There’s no impact so far?
SENIOR U.S. OFFICIAL: Not discernible.
QUESTION: Talking about the draft, are you going to be approaching it – and I’m not sure you want to answer this – but basically component by component, taking the relatively easy issues first? Or are you going to be looking at it in a totality?
SENIOR U.S. OFFICIAL: One, we’ll have to look at the totality, because, as I’ve said, this is a package. So even if one has a discussion about an element, one will have to return to it again and again and again as you discuss the other elements, which interact with the first element that you might have discussed or the fifth element you might have discussed, to see whether, in fact, the package comes together. That’s why this is so complex. And each one of those has a great deal of technical detail behind it, and so you have to know all the technical details to know whether what you aspire to achieve can actually happen.
Click here for the full briefing.

Rouhani on Eve of Nuclear Talks

       In the run-up to talks in Vienna, beginning on May 13, President Hassan Rouhani defended his approach to securing a final nuclear deal with the world’s six major powers – Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States. Rouhani offered more transparency but warned that Iran’s “nuclear technology is not up for negotiation” in an address to the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. The following are excerpts from his remarks reported by various news agencies.

            “We have nothing to put on the table and offer to them but transparency. That’s it. Our nuclear technology is not up for negotiation.
            “Iran will not retreat one step in the field of nuclear technology.
            “We are pursuing our national interests, and we will not accept nuclear apartheid.
            “We want to tell the world they cannot belittle the Iranian nation; they have to respect it.
            “Neither weakening, humiliation, sanctions or threats will work.
            “What we can offer the world is greater transparency.
            “If one engages in a technological endeavor but is not doing good legal and political work, then the enemy might come up with a fictional excuse to cause trouble for you.
            “If you don't have good public relations and are not able to communicate well, then you might find other evil-minded people misleading world public opinion.
            “We don't want to retreat one step from our pursuit of technology, but we want to take a step forward on the political front.
            “We wanted to tell the world that our activities are moving in the right direction: If we say we can enrich to 3.5 percent, we can do it. If necessary we will do [it to] 20 percent.
            “All of the commitments the West had to us [before the 1979 revolution]— from America to Germany to France — none of them were carried out.
            “Neither was America ready, based on its own commitments, to give Tehran reactor fuel. Neither was Germany ready to continue its work at Bushehr. Nor was France ready to act on its commitments in the fields of the joint [plans]. They were not even ready to hand over the [uranium hexafluoride], which belonged to us.”
            May 11, at a ceremony celebrating scientific advances by Iran's Atomic Energy Organization
           “The world today is forced to accept that the only way to deal with the Iranian nation is interaction and this nation does not bow to pressure and sanctions.
            The West should “pursue the path of logic, dialogue and negotiations because they do not have any other choice vis-a-vis the great and resistant nation of Iran.”
            May 7, to officials in Ilam Province
Photo credit: President.ir

Report: Solving the Nuclear Rubik’s™ Cube

            International Crisis Group presented a 40-measure action plan for a comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran in a new report. Senior Analyst Ali Vaez warned that Iran and the world’s six major powers – Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States – need to isolate the negotiations from the regional context and focus solely on the nuclear program. An agreement is possible if both sides “take a more technical approach focused on bottom-line requirements and core interests,” he argued. The following are excerpts from the executive summary with a link to the full text.

            The main objective of the P5+1 (the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany) is to constrain Iran’s nuclear program. In Geneva, where the agreement – officially known as the Joint Plan of Action – was signed, the group for the first time agreed to Iran maintaining some enrichment capacity. But it has demanded that Tehran significantly roll back its enrichment capabilities, close the bunkered enrichment facility in Fordow and heavy-water plant in Arak; and demonstrate the peaceful nature of its nuclear program by detailing past activities and allowing, for an extended period, intrusive monitoring. Fearing that it would be easier for Iran to reverse its nuclear concessions than for the West to renew its isolation, the group insists on retaining sanctions leverage, even through implementation of the final step of a comprehensive agreement.
            Iran believes that the P5+1’s objective is to contain not simply its nuclear program, but also the Islamic Republic itself. It contends that it has been singled out, uniquely among signatories of the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), to prove a negative, that its nuclear program does not aim at weaponisation. Tehran insists on preserving a substantial part of its nuclear infrastructure, in view of the enormous cost it has paid for it. While willing to accept heightened verification measures in order to enable the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to establish the peaceful nature of its program, it insists that they be temporary and respectful of its national security requirements. It also demands significant and immediate Western reciprocation of any nuclear concession.
            From these starting points, it would appear that the P5+1’s maximum – in terms of both what it considers a tolerable residual Iranian nuclear capability and the sanctions relief it is willing to provide – falls short of Iran’s minimum. Nevertheless, it is still possible to reach a comprehensive agreement on a limited nuclear program – though an uncomfortable one for skeptics like Saudi Arabia and Israel that object on principle to Iran retaining any enrichment capacity. Negotiators will not get far, however, by trying to define Iran’s “practical needs” for enriched uranium (an approach endorsed in Geneva), since needs are a matter of interpretation about which Iran and the P5+1 differ. Focusing on “breakout time” – the time required to enrich enough uranium for one weapon – will not stand them in better stead, as it is based on theoretical, unpredictable and plastic calculations.
            What is needed, rather, is a compromise that satisfies both sides’ irreducible, bottom-line requirements: for Iran a meaningful enrichment program, continued scientific advancement and tangible sanctions relief; and for the P5+1, a firewall between Iran’s civilian and potential military nuclear capabilities, airtight monitoring mechanisms and sufficient time and Iranian cooperation to establish trust in the exclusively peaceful nature of the country’s nuclear program. Such a solution would enable them to sell the deal at home and serve as a springboard for developing a different kind of relationship.
            This report presents a blueprint for achieving that agreement. It is guided by four objectives: building a firewall between Iran’s civilian and potential military nuclear capabilities by constraining the most proliferation-prone aspects of its nuclear program; enhancing transparency by establishing rigorous monitoring and verification mechanisms; ensuring implementation and deterring non-compliance by establishing objective and compulsory monitoring and arbitration mechanisms, as well as by devising, in advance, potential responses to breaches by either party; and bolstering the parties’ incentives to remain faithful to the agreement by introducing positive inducements rather than purely negative ones.
            A comprehensive agreement based on these principles should be implemented in three phases, the first of which would start with steps that clearly demonstrate the parties’ commitment to the process and provide them with immediate tangible benefits, while delaying the heavy lifting until their investment in the process is greater, the costs for withdrawing higher and at least some sceptics have bought into the process.
            The basic elements of the approach include:
  • permitting Iran a contingency enrichment program that could be dialled up in the event of nuclear fuel denial, though constrained enough that any breakout could be promptly detected and, through a defined response, thwarted;
  • converting the heavy-water research reactor in Arak to diminish the amount of plutonium it produces;
  • transforming the bunkered facility in Fordow into a proliferation-resistant research and development centre;
  • introducing transparency measures that exceed Iran’s existing obligations but conform with its legitimate security and dignity concerns and that the P5+1 should acknowledge will be temporary;
  • providing Iran significant but reversible sanctions relief in the early stages of the comprehensive agreement, followed by escalating further relaxation, including open-ended suspension or termination of restrictions in accordance with progress on the nuclear front;
  • establishing positive incentives by strengthening trade ties, and increasing civilian nuclear and renewable energy cooperation between the parties; and
  • coordinating messages to reassure both sides’ regional allies and rivals, and to avoid inciting hardliners as leaders sell the agreement at home.
            The detailed recommendations that follow lay out this path in 40 actions. It is a path that carries risks for both sides. There is no guarantee that Iran will remain faithful to its commitments after international attention shifts. Nor is there certainty that the U.S. Congress will accept the deal and provide the president with the necessary authority on sanctions.
These risks notwithstanding, the alternatives are less attractive. A series of partial, interim deals would lessen the chances of reaching a final agreement, fall short of satisfying either party and strengthen hardline critics. A return to the status quo ante, with each side ratcheting up its leverage in the hope of forcing the other to capitulate, would very possibly lay the tracks for a scenario in which Iran attains a nuclear bomb while sanctions cause it grave harm. Most dangerous would be a military strike, which could set back Iran’s nuclear march temporarily, but at the cost of spurring it to rush toward the ultimate deterrent, while retaliating in a variety of asymmetric or non-conventional ways, with unpredictable but certainly tragic regional ramifications.
            If odds of the talks collapsing are high, the stakes of failure are higher. At the very least, a breakdown would reduce the possibility of success later, as it would erode trust and stiffen positions. The region and the world will be a safer place for a compromise that protects everyone’s core interests, contains Iran’s nuclear program and rehabilitates the country’s economy and international standing.
Upon signing the comprehensive agreement
To the government of Iran:
1.  Reaffirm that in accordance with the Supreme Leader’s fatwa, it will never seek or develop nuclear weapons and will apply facility-specific safeguards, based on Information Circular 66 of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to all its current and future enrichment and nuclear fuel fabrication facilities.
2.  Declare a policy of maintaining an Open Fuel Cycle; ie, refrain from reprocessing spent fuel.
3.  Accept to maintain a “zero-stockpile” of enriched uranium, by converting any stockpile of fissile material in the form of uranium hexafluoride or uranium oxide powder to nuclear fuel rods in a short period of time; and pledge not to build any reconversion lines.
To the P5+1 (China, France, Russia, the UK, U.S. plus Germany):
4.  Endorse the comprehensive agreement via a new UN Security Council resolution.
5.  Provide legally-binding guarantees to supply fuel for Iran’s nuclear power and research reactors.
6.  Refrain from imposing any additional nuclear-related sanctions.
Phase I: For a period of one to two years following the signing of a comprehensive agreement
To the government of Iran:
7.  Limit its uranium enrichment capacity to a contingency program capped at 6,400 SWU in one facility (Natanz). Relocate any excess centrifuges from Fordow and Natanz’s Hall A to Natanz’s Hall B for storage under the IAEA’s seal and video surveillance.
8.  Cooperate with the P5+1 on fuel manufacturing in Isfahan in order to convert Iran’s entire stockpile of 5 and 20 per cent low-enriched uranium into fuel rods by the end of this period.
9.  Convert Fordow into a research and development facility at which only individual machines could be tested. The net enrichment output should be zero, as products and tails are recombined at the end of the process. Other non-enrichment related nuclear research also could take place at the facility. More advanced machines could be tested in a maximum of two interconnected cascades in Natanz, with the IAEA allowed to evaluate their enrichment capacity. Also, limit enrichment capacity per centrifuge in the R&D sector at all facilities to 5 SWU/year.
10.  Modify the Arak heavy-water reactor, in cooperation with the P5+1, so that it operates, at a lower power level, on 5 per cent enriched uranium; allow either in-house inspectors or remote surveillance to monitor the facility upon introduction of nuclear material; agree to ship out its spent fuel as soon as it can be transported safely; and halt the production of natural uranium oxide fuel.
11.  Implement all elements of the Additional Protocol of the IAEA, modified Subsidiary Arrangement Code 3.1 and all the additional enhanced safeguards and transparency measures outlined in the 24 November 2013 Joint Plan of Action signed with the P5+1.
12.  Manufacture, assemble and test centrifuges and their parts only in locations open to IAEA inspections; allow the agency to tag the produced centrifuges for accountancy purposes; and declare the stocks of raw material to the IAEA.
13.  Limit mining, milling and conversion of uranium to levels commensurate with enrichment activities, and allow the IAEA to conduct regular material accountancy measurements at the uranium conversion plant in Isfahan.
14.  Resolve satisfactorily with the IAEA all past and present issues related to the “possible military dimensions” of the nuclear program and take all necessary corrective measures.
15.  Ratify the 1994 IAEA Convention on Nuclear Safety, consistent with the respective prerogatives of the executive and legislative branches of the Iranian government.
To the P5+1:
16.  State that they reject categorically any armed attack or threat against nuclear facilities devoted exclusively to peaceful purposes and deem any such coercive action a violation of the principles of international law and specifically of the UN Charter and IAEA Statute.
17.  Extend and expand the suspension of all sanctions outlined in the Joint Plan of Action; and delist Iranian banks and nuclear organisations blacklisted by the UN Security Council resolutions.
18.  Release half of Iran’s frozen oil proceeds in monthly instalments, allow repatriation of future oil revenue and release Iran’s impounded assets under U.S. Executive Order 13599.
19.  Resume gradually European imports of Iranian petroleum and lift the EU transaction threshold on permissible trade with Iran.
20.  Lift the ban on providing financial messaging services to Iranian banks and permit trading in Iranian currency (the Rial); rescind designation of Iran as a jurisdiction of primary money laundering concern; and permit U-turn transactions in U.S. dollars.
21.  Facilitate further humanitarian trade with Iran.
22.  Cooperate with Iran to modify the Arak reactor, provide its fuel manufacturing technology or fuel upon completion and sell Iran medical isotopes at market prices.
23.  Confirm that any report by the IAEA regarding Iran’s past nuclear activities will be reported to the agency’s Board of Governors and the Security Council for information purposes only.
24.  Collaborate with Iran on issues of safety for nuclear power plants and research reactors, including assessment of risks, promotion of safety-oriented solutions and research on nuclear applications in medicine and agriculture.
Phase II: For a period of five to seven years after successful completion of Phase I
To the government of Iran:
25.  Ratify the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty in accordance with the Supreme Leader’s fatwa against nuclear weapons.
26.  Increase its uranium enrichment capacity to a contingency program capped at 9,600 SWU; maintain the limit on enrichment capacity per centrifuge in the R&D sector at all facilities at 5 SWU/year
27.  Limit mining, milling, and conversion of uranium to enrichment needs.
28.  Sign the 2002 Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation.
29.  Adhere to the Nuclear Suppliers Group guidelines, and collaborate with the P5+1 to establish export control programs.
To the P5+1:
30.  Obtain the authority for lifting, suspending with open-ended waivers or otherwise relaxing the sanctions outlined in Appendix B of this report based on an agreed schedule, contingent in all cases on Iran’s compliance with its commitments.
31.  Release incrementally the second half of Iran’s frozen oil proceeds and relax sanctions on investment and provision of goods and services to Iran’s petro-chemical sector.
32.  Provide firm guarantees for Iran’s access to advanced civilian nuclear research and power reactor technology in conformity with Articles I, II and IV of the NPT.
33.  Negotiate and conclude contracts for two additional light-water research reactors and two nuclear power plants; and pledge to provide the fuel for these reactors and to repatriate their spent fuel during their entire lifespans.
34.  Transfer cutting-edge technologies related to renewable energies to Iran.
Phase III: For a period of eight to ten years after successful completion of Phase II
To the government of Iran:
35.  Ratify the Additional Protocol of the NPT.
36.  Stop implementing transparency measures beyond its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement, the Additional Protocol and modified Subsidiary Arrangement Code 3.1 gradually, upon the IAEA’s drawing “broader conclusions” that there are no undeclared nuclear activities and materials in Iran.
37.  Limit its uranium enrichment capacity voluntarily to a contingency program capped at 19,200 SWU and limit per centrifuge enrichment capacity in the R&D sector to 10 SWU/year.
To the P5+1:
38.  Upon the IAEA drawing its “broader conclusions”, lift the remaining UN Security Council sanctions, with the exception of restrictions on procurement and export of dual-use material and technologies that will be lifted at the end of this phase.
39.  Lift sanctions incrementally on investment in and provision of goods/services to Iran’s natural gas sector, followed by similar measures related to Iran’s oil sector.
40.  The EU and other willing partners will develop a strategic energy partnership through a Trade and Cooperation Agreement and declare Iran a long-term supplier of fossil energy.
Click here for the full report.

Hardliners Grill Zarif on Holocaust Stance

            On May 6, some 75 hardliner lawmakers grilled Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on his Holocaust stance. He had called the Holocaust a “horrifying tragedy” that “should never occur again” in an interview with a German television station in February. Iran’s 290-member parliament voted against censuring the foreign minister after intense exchanges with critics. Zarif had previously been summoned to explain his stances on the United States and Israel. The latest parliament session came just two days after hardliners held a conference to warn Iran's nuclear negotiators, led by Zarif, against giving too many concessions in talks with the world's six major powers.

            Zarif earned applause from some lawmakers for accusing Israel of spreading propaganda against Iran. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “shamelessly claims Iran denies the Holocaust, that we are after a nuclear bomb to create another Holocaust. As long as I am foreign minister, I will not allow the Holocaust to be exploited to ruin our national image and dignity,” pledged Zarif. Lawmakers said they were “satisfied” with Zarif’s explanation after the parliament session, which was broadcast live on state radio.
            Zarif was first questioned about his position in September 2013, shortly after he joined Twitter and wished a happy new year to the world’s Jews. His Rosh Hashanah message sparked a revealing exchange with Christine Pelosi, daughter of House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi. She tweeted that the new year would be “even sweeter” if Zarif would “end Iran’s Holocaust denial.” Zarif, known for a dry sense of humor, tweeted back, “Iran never denied it. The man who was perceived to be denying it is now gone. Happy New Year.” Zarif later confirmed to The Iran Primer that he knew that he was communicating with Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi’s daughter. President Rouhani’s account retweeted Zarif’s reply to Pelosi.
            Iran’s Tasnim News Agency then asked the foreign minister about his statements on the Holocaust. Iranians condemn the “killing of Jews by Nazis, as we condemn the killing of Palestinians by the Zionists,” Zarif said. “Judaism is a divine religion that we respect in accordance with the teachings of our religion and our country’s constitution.” He added that Iran’s “Jewish compatriots are a recognized minority” and that they have a representative in parliament. “Jews aren’t our enemies,” Zarif clarified. He also claimed that “Zionists are a minority” among them. “The Zionists for 60 years used the Holocaust as a pretext for all the crimes against the Palestinians,” Zarif told Tasnim. Zarif posted the interview text on his Facebook account.
            Zarif’s stance contrasts sharply with former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial. Ahmadinejad repeatedly called the extermination of 6 million Jews a “myth” during his tenure from 2005 to 2013. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei most recently questioned the Holocaust in March 2014. The “Holocaust is an event whose reality is uncertain and if it has happened, it's uncertain how it has happened,” he said in a speech marking Persian New Year.


Connect With Us

Our Partners

Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Logo