Parting Shot Mohammad Javad Zarif
, ’ , , has little in common with Donald Trump. Zarif is a bookish, Americaneducated diplomat who chooses his words carefully. But like Trump, the Iranian emissary is a prolific tweeter and avid dealmaker. As he once put it, “The art of a diplomat is to conceal all turbulence behind his smile.”
Over a 20-month period that culminated in closing a deal in July 2015, Zarif played a dominant role in Iran’s most famous international agreement— the one concerning its nuclear program. Because of Trump, that deal could fall apart. In his address to the U.N. General Assembly in September, the selfproclaimed “master negotiator” called the agreement “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions” in history. By October 15, he reportedly will claim that Iran is not complying with the deal. In late September, we asked Zarif who was the better dealmaker, himself or the president. “I guess he is,” the Iranian foreign minister said. “I don’t know. I’m modest.” You are on the record as saying you are not open to renegotiating the nuclear deal. Doesn’t that potentially put Iran on a collision course with the U.S.? That wouldn’t be the first time. We’re not putting ourselves on a collision course with anybody. Others may be putting themselves on that course. And I believe they are putting themselves on a collision course with the international community. Every aspect of the deal had been fully and repeatedly renegotiated before we reached an agreement. Everybody else who participated in…[it] knows that if we reopen the deal to negotiation, we would be reopening Pandora’s box, which would be impossible to close again. Trump prides himself on being a great dealmaker. You have been called a master negotiator. Are you familiar with his book The Art of the Deal? In it, the president implies that he enjoys negotiating, almost like it’s a hobby. How does that translate to the Iranian nuclear agreement? I’m familiar with the man who’s written the book. I’ll look at it [The
Art of the Deal]. Believe me, maybe making real estate deals is fun and considered a hobby, but negotiating international agreements is no fun. It’s much more complicated than that. I hope President Trump won’t learn that the hard way.
“The art of a diplomat is to conceal all turbulence behind his smile.”