Iran's foreign minister says breaking the nuclear deal would prove 'the United States is not a reliable partner'

Mohammad Javad Zarif Khonsari, the foreign minister of Iran.
(Image credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif was blunt in an interview with Politico published Monday that chiefly dealt with the probable future of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal.

Zarif said President Trump's threats to nix the deal have undercut U.S. credibility "as a reliable negotiating partner," and that should Trump follow through, this untrustworthy reputation would be set in stone, endangering other diplomatic goals like a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. "Now, look at the message that you are sending to the world," Zarif said. "It would make it tougher for anybody to believe and rely upon the United States — anybody, not just North Korea. You've seen U.S. allies saying that the United States is not a reliable partner."

Trump has long wanted to withdraw from the Iran deal, which he labels "the dumbest deal perhaps I've ever seen in the history of deal-making." Since taking office, he has twice certified that Iran is in compliance with the terms of the pact, though he has done so while complaining that Tehran is violating "the spirit" of the arrangement. Should Trump actually withdraw, Zarif said, Iran would not do likewise, at least not immediately.

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Of Trump himself, Zarif was equally candid and critical. He took particular issue with the president's September speech at the United Nations, calling it "the most insulting statement that had ever been made by any U.S. president against Iran since the Revolution." Trump's "posturing," "alternative facts," "publicity stunts," and escalating rhetoric toward North Korea are dangerous and offensive, Zarif said, boding ill for international relations.

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