If only Zarif were worthy of Kerry’s attentiveness. He is not. Kerry is sincere in his desire to resolve past differences between the U.S. and Iran and place the relationship on a sounder footing.
Zarif has a very different mission. The Iranian foreign minister’s job is not to change Iran’s behavior, but to pretend that Iran is no different from any other Western country, with hardliners and moderates, national interests and diplomatic imperatives.
If Zarif were foreign minister of Belgium, he wouldn’t have to work so hard at getting people to believe him. But he is the top diplomat for the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, whose security services marked the completion of the nuclear deal by arresting an Iranian-American dual national businessman a couple months later. So Zarif has to engage in the ancient art of lying, to put it undiplomatically.
Consider Zarif’s New Yorker interview. He complains that the U.S. is not holding up its part of the Iran deal because it is not guaranteeing that any bank or company that invests in Iran will have no problems with the U.S. Treasury down the road. And yet, Zarif must know that the nuclear deal lifted only the sanctions levied for Iran’s nuclear program, but left in place U.S. sanctions for Iran’s support for terrorism and human rights abuses.