Editor’s note: Read the original essay, by Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, that prompted this response.
Reading through the Iranian foreign minister’s article in The Atlantic this week, one is struck by paradox. It is so full of lies, distortions, and half-truths that in the end it yields one fundamental truth—it’s not a set of errors, it’s a methodology. The goal is to turn Iran into a regional nuclear power. The method is to make the West believe it isn’t happening.
There is no need for a sustained intelligence effort to expose the blatant lies in Zarif’s piece, so I will highlight just a few of the most egregious examples: Iran didn’t improve the accuracy of its missiles to avoid “civilian or non-combatant deaths” (I admit I had to read that sentence twice to believe he wrote it), but rather to intensify the threat and ability to sow destruction. Iran is not a democracy, as he portrays it, because a democracy doesn’t hang homosexuals from cranes, doesn’t enshrine in law the right to stone adulterers to death, and doesn’t maintain a force like the Basij, an Iranian paramilitary of around 11.5 million people whose role is to enforce Sharia law and prevent Western influence. Iran isn’t the victim of terror as Zarif pretends, but the country that funds and arms Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and a long list of other terror organizations. Iran does not show “good will and peaceful intentions,” because if it did it wouldn’t have sent the Revolutionary Guard to help the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad murder more than half a million people in Syria and create over 11 million refugees through the use of barrel bombs and chemical weapons. Iran is not interested in the “promotion of peace, stability, progress, and prosperity in the region” because earlier this year Zarif’s boss, the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, called Israel “a cancerous tumor” and a “fake entity” which needs to be destroyed. On another occasion he announced that Iran will support anyone who aims to “wipe Israel off the map.