Mohammad Javad Zarif
Mohammad Javad Zarif Reuters

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif denied his country would interfere with the US presidential election next year, saying his government does not have a preference in the race.

Speaking in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” which will air in full on Sunday, Zarif accused the US of initiating a cyberwar with his country.

“Any war the United States starts it won’t be able to finish,” said Zarif in the interview, which took place in New York while the Iranian Foreign Minister visited the city in order to attend the UN General Assembly.

Asked about US intelligence which includes Iran among the countries attempting to interfere with the US election, Zarif replied, “We don’t have a preference in your election to intervene in that election.”

“We don’t interfere in the internal affairs of another country. But there is a cyber war going on,” he added.

Zarif cited the Stuxnet computer virus which is blamed for disrupting thousands of Iranian centrifuges in an effort to damage its nuclear program.

Stuxnet is widely believed to be an American and Israeli creation, though Israel did not admit to being behind it. A 2012 report said that then-US President Barack Obama ordered the Stuxnet virus attack on Iran as part of a wave of cyber sabotage and espionage against the Islamic Republic.

“The United States started that cyber war, with attacking our nuclear facilities in a very dangerous, irresponsible way that could’ve killed millions of people. You remember Stuxnet?” Zarif told NBC.

“So there is a cyber war ... and Iran is engaged in that cyber war. But the United — any war that the United States starts, it won’t be able to finish,” he added.

The interview comes amid continued tensions between the US and Iran, which began when US President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal last May. He later imposed two rounds of sanctions on Iran, the latest of which went into effect in November of 2018.

Iran, in turn, has scaled back its compliance with the 2015 deal.

During Trump’s speech at the UN General Assembly last week, he accused the Iranian government of a "fanatical quest" for nuclear weapons.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani later claimed that America, not Iran, is the key supporter of Middle East terrorism and added that Trump has been misguided in his criticisms of Iran.