On April 29, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif quipped that sanctions relief as part of nuclear deal would be codified in a U.N. Security Council resolution, “which will be mandatory for all member states whether Senator [Tom] Cotton likes it or not.” Cotton has been a vocal critic of nuclear talks between Iran and the world’s six major powers. In March, he organized a controversial open letter to Iran’s leaders warning that a nuclear deal could be revoked by the next president or modified by a future Congress. The letter, signed by 47 Republican senators, prompted a backlash from top Iranian leaders, including the supreme leader.
Zarif referred to Cotton and the GOP letter at an event organized by the New America Foundation and the New York University Center on International Cooperation. He was in New York to attend Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty (NPT) conference at the United Nations. Cotton released a statement and took to Twitter in response to Zarif, challenging the minister to meet in Washington to “debate Iran’s record of tyranny, treachery & terror.” The following is a rundown of Zarif’s remarks, Cotton’s response and Zarif’s reply.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
“If we have an agreement on the 30th of June, within a few days of that, we will have a resolution in the Security Council under Article 41 of Chapter 7, which will be mandatory for all member states, whether Senator Cotton likes it or not. I couldn’t avoid that.”
“I’ve studied and lived in the U.S., I know enough about the U.S. constitution and U.S. procedures. But as a foreign government, I only deal with the U.S. government. I do not deal with the U.S. Congress, I do not deal with the U.S. Supreme Court.”
—April 29, 2015 at an event in New York
Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR)
Hey @JZarif, I hear you called me out today. If you’re so confident, let’s debate the Constitution. 1/4— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) April 29, 2015
Here’s offer: meet in DC, @JZarif, time of your choosing to debate Iran’s record of tyranny, treachery, & terror. 2/4— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) April 29, 2015
I understand if you decline @JZarif after all, in your 20s, you hid in US during Iran-Iraq war while peasants & kids were marched to die 3/4— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) April 29, 2015
Not badge of courage @JZarif, to hide in US while your country fought war to survive-but shows cowardly character still on display today 4/4— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) April 29, 2015
*Cotton was apparently referring Zarif’s time spent in the United States during the 1980-1988 war between Iran and Iraq. Zarif continued his studies and worked for the Iranian mission to the United Nations during the war.
Statement released by Senator Cotton
“Sanctions relief isn’t about what I like, but what will keep America safe from a nuclear-armed Iran. But I suspect Foreign Minister Zarif is saying what President Obama will not because the President knows such terms would be unacceptable to both Congress and the American people. The repeated provocative statements made by members of the Iranian leadership demonstrate why Iran cannot be trusted and why the President’s decision to pursue this deal and grant dangerous concessions to Iran was ill-advised from the beginning. These aren’t rhetorical tricks aimed at appealing to hard-liners in Iran; after all, Mr. Zarif was speaking in English in New York. Rather, they foreshadow the dangerous posture Iran will take and has taken repeatedly—including as recently as yesterday with the interception of a U.S.-affiliated cargo ship—if this deal moves forward.
“More, they reaffirm the need for Congress to approve any final deal and to conduct oversight over the Obama Administration’s actions. As we consider the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, I urge my colleagues to ensure we pass legislation strong enough to stop a bad deal in its tracks and protect the American people from a nuclear Iran.”
— April 29, 2015 in a statement
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
Serious diplomacy, not macho personal smear, is what we need. Congrats on Ur new born. May U and Ur family enjoy him in peace .@SenTomCotton— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) April 30, 2015