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Obama Insulted the Iranian People, Says Iran's Foreign Minister

President Obama shouldn't have told PM Netanyahu that the military option was still on the table regarding Iran, says Mohammad Javad Zarif.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 10/6/2013, 4:56 AM

Mohammad Javad Zarif
Mohammad Javad Zarif
Reuters

U.S. President Barack Obama “insulted” the Iranian people during his meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu this past week, Iran’s Foreign Minister is claiming.

Speaking to CNN, Mohammad Javad Zarif said that Obama should not have told Netanyahu that the military option to deal with Iran’s nuclear program remains on the table.

“I was rather disappointed that President Obama used language that was insulting to the Iranian people,” Zarif said in the interview, which will air Sunday and parts of which were released Saturday.

“I believe President Obama should, in fact, stick to his declared intention to deal with Iran on the basis of mutual respect. That’s what he said in his letter to the president. That’s what he said in his address to the General Assembly,” he added.

“You do not deal with another state with mutual respect by threatening them, by trying to intimidate them, particularly when you know that that is not useful, that is not of any utility,” Zarif said. “As I said, the Iranian people react very, very negatively to such languages of threat and intimidation.”

He told the news network welcomes his country’s shift away from the diplomatic isolation and the sanctions weighing on his country’s economy.

“Nobody has benefitted from this pattern of relations that we’ve had over the last eight years,” said Zarif.

“There is need for change. And I hope that everybody realizes that we need to change that process, put an end to something that was a lose-lose situation and hopefully begin something that will be to the benefit of everyone,” he added.

Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, has called for the lifting of international sanctions, imposed over his country’s nuclear program, that have taken a heavy toll on the Iranian economy.

In an indication of the shifting mood, he spoke with Obama by phone last week, the first direct conversation between leaders of the two countries since the Iranian revolution in 1979.

Obama, in his speech to the UN General Assembly, reached out to Iran and said dhtehdgh, but later told Netanyahu that Washington would not ease up on its sanctions against Iran unless and until Tehran halted its nuclear arms program.

In his interview with CNN, Zarif said that Iran has been enriching uranium in order to create fuel for nuclear power plants, and said Israel has for decades been saying that Iran is on the verge of obtaining a nuclear bomb.

“We don’t have a bomb because we don’t see it in our interests,” he said.