Mohammad Javad Zarif

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Mohammad Javad Zarif
Mohammad Javad Zarif 2014 (cropped).jpg
Zarif in 2014
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Assumed office
15 August 2013
PresidentHassan Rouhani
Preceded byAli Akbar Salehi
Chief Nuclear Negotiator of Iran
In office
6 September 2013 – 14 July 2015
PresidentHassan Rouhani
DeputyAbbas Araghchi
Preceded bySaeed Jalili
Succeeded byAbbas Araghchi (as head of JCPOA follow-up commission)[1]
Ambassador of Iran to the United Nations
In office
5 August 2002 – 25 July 2007
PresidentMohammad Khatami
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Preceded byHadi Nejad-Hosseinian
Succeeded byMohammad Khazaee
Personal details
Born (1960-01-07) 7 January 1960 (age 59)
Tehran, Iran
Political partyIndependent
Spouse(s)
Maryam Imanieh (m. 1979)
[2]
Children2[3]
Awardssee below
Signature
WebsiteGovernment site
Military service
AllegianceIran
Branch/serviceAgent in Ministry of Foreign Affairs[4]
Years of service1988–1990[4]
RankSenior negotiator[4]
Academic background and work
FieldsInternational law
International relations
International studies
Alma materSan Francisco State University (B.A.), (M.A.)
Columbia University (dropped out)[5]
University of Denver (M.A.), (Ph.D.)
ThesisSelf-Defense in International Law and Policy (1988)
InstitutionsSchool of International Relations
University of Tehran
Islamic Azad University

Mohammad Javad Zarif (Persian: محمدجواد ظریف‎; Persian pronunciation: [mohæmːædd͡ʒæˌvɒːde zæˌɾiːf]; born 7 January 1960) is an Iranian career diplomat[6] and academic. He has been foreign minister of Iran since 2013. During his tenure as foreign minister, he led the Iranian negotiation with P5+1 countries which produced the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on 14 July 2015,[7] lifting the economic sanctions against Iran on 16 January 2016.[8] On 25 February 2019, Zarif resigned from his post as foreign minister.[9] His resignation was rejected by Hassan Rouhani and he continues as foreign minister.

Before assuming his current position, he held various significant diplomatic and cabinet posts. He is a visiting professor at the School of International Relations and University of Tehran, teaching diplomacy and international organizations. He was the Permanent Representative of Iran to the United Nations from 2002 to 2007.[10] He served as adviser and senior adviser to the Foreign Minister, Deputy Foreign Minister in Legal and International affairs, member of the UN Eminent Persons Group on Dialogue Among Civilizations, Head of the UN Disarmament Commission in New York, member of the Eminent Persons Group[disambiguation needed] on global governance, and Vice President for International Affairs of the Islamic Azad University.[11]

Early life and education[edit]

Zarif was born on 7 January 1960 in Tehran.[12][13] According to The New Republic, Zarif was born to an "affluent, religiously devout and politically conservative merchant family in Tehran". His father was one of the most well-known businessmen of Isfahan, and his mother was the daughter of one of the most famous businessmen of Tehran. He was educated at the Alavi School, a private religious institution.[5]

Zarif was shielded from TV, radio, and newspapers by his parents as a youth. Instead, he became exposed to revolutionary ideas by reading the books of Ali Shariati and Samad Behrangi.[5]

At age 17, he left Iran for the United States. Zarif attended Drew College Preparatory School, a private college-preparatory high school located in San Francisco, California.[5] He went on to study at San Francisco State University, from which he gained a B.A. in 1981 and M.A. in 1982, both in international relations.[14] Following this, Zarif continued his studies at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver, from which he obtained a second M.A. in international relations in 1984 and a Ph.D. in international law and policy in 1988.[15][16] His thesis was titled "Self-Defense in International Law and Policy."[17]

Tom Rowe, a professor at the graduate school who led the committee that oversaw Zarif's dissertation, said: "He was among the very best students that I've ever taught."[18] Ved Nanda, who taught and was on Zarif's dissertation committee, recalled: "[He was] good in the classroom. At that time ... I thought he'd play an important part in his country's life."[19]

Initial missions in the US[edit]

Zarif was appointed a member of the Iranian delegation to the United Nations in May 1982—largely due to his English-speaking ability and relationships in America, rather than formal diplomatic training.[5] As a junior diplomat Zarif was involved in negotiations to win the release of U.S. hostages held by pro-Iranian gunmen in Lebanon, according to the memoirs of former United Nations envoy Giandomenico Picco. Even though the United States did not make a promised reciprocal goodwill gesture at the time, Zarif remained committed to improving ties.[20]

In 2000, Zarif served as chairman of the Asian preparatory meeting of the World Conference on Racism and as the chairman of the United Nations Disarmament Commission. Zarif was also professor of international law at the University of Tehran. He served as the vice president of Islamic Azad University in charge of foreign affairs from 2010 to 2012 under Abdollah Jasbi.[21] He has served on the board of editors of a number of scholarly journals, including the Iranian Journal of International Affairs and Iranian Foreign Policy, and has written extensively on disarmament, human rights, international law, and regional conflicts.[22]

Representative at the United Nations[edit]

Zarif as Iran's representative at the United Nations

Zarif served as Iran's representative at the United Nations from 2002 to 2007.[14] He was closely linked with developing the so-called "Grand Bargain," a plan to resolve outstanding issues between the U.S. and Iran in 2003.[23] Zarif, during his time at the UN, held private meetings with a number of Washington politicians, including the then-Senators Joseph Biden and Chuck Hagel.[23] He resigned from office on 6 July 2007.[24] He was succeeded by Mohammad Khazaee in the post.[25]

In 2007, Zarif was a headline speaker at an American Iranian Council conference in New Brunswick, New Jersey including Chuck Hagel, Dennis Kucinich, Nicholas Kristof, and Anders Liden to discuss Iranian-American relations, and potential ways to increase dialogue and avoid conflict.[26]

On 18 November 2008, Zarif claimed that Washington is conspiring to foment discord among Iranians in order to topple the Tehran government, saying "The concept of a velvet revolution in Iran should not be considered as groundless fear."[27]

Minister of Foreign Affairs[edit]

Zarif outside of Iran's Ministry of Foreign Affairs

On 23 July 2013, it was reported that Zarif was Rouhani's choice for minister of foreign affairs. This was not confirmed by the president-elect's office until 4 August when Rouhani officially nominated Zarif for the position to the Iranian Parliament.[28] He was confirmed by the parliament with 232 votes, replacing Ali Akbar Salehi in the position.[29]

Zarif welcomed the first visit by a foreign leader to Iran since Rouhani assumed the presidency ten days after his approval as Foreign Minister with the arrival of Oman's sultan, Qaboos bin Said Al Said. Stories spread that there was a secret agenda to his meetings with Iranian officials, involving claims that he came to convey messages from the United States and then to relay Iran's response to White House officials.[30] On 5 September 2013, in an exchange prompted by his Rosh Hashanah greeting on Twitter, Zarif said that Iran does not deny the Holocaust, distancing the government from the often belligerent stances by former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.[31] Genuineness of Zarif's tweeting in English was confirmed by CNN's Christiane Amanpour.[32] On 27 September 2013, he met with United States Secretary of State John Kerry during P5+1 and Iran summit. It was the highest-level direct contact between the United States and Iran in the last six years.[33][34] After the meeting, Kerry said that "We had a constructive meeting, and I think all of us were pleased that Foreign Minister Zarif came and made a presentation to us, which was very different in tone and very different in the vision that he held out with respect to possibilities of the future."[35]

After the breakup of talks on 12 November, Zarif rejected Kerry's claim that Iran had been unable to accept the deal "at that particular moment". He said "no amount of spinning" could change what had happened in Geneva, but it could "further erode confidence". Zarif appeared to blame France for "gutting over half" of a US draft deal. Representatives from Iran and the so-called P5+1 - met again on 20 November.[36]

Zarif with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (then recovering from a broken leg) in a one-on-one conversation at the Palais Coburg on July 3, 2015.

Talks between senior American, Iranian and European diplomats in October 2014 produced no breakthrough agreement on curbing Iran's nuclear program, but officials said they still aimed to reach a deal by the November 24 deadline. A senior State Department official characterized each step of progress in the talks as "chipping away" at complex, technical differences, with virtually every sentence requiring an appendix of further explanation. "We continue to make progress, but there is still a substantial amount of work to be done," said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the difficult and secretive negotiations.[37]

Zarif with then-U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, 9 December 2017

Zarif and Kerry conferred, ahead of a fresh round of negotiations between Iran and six world powers in Geneva, on settling their 12-year standoff over Tehran's nuclear ambitions. Lower-level negotiators on both sides met at the same venue on 15 January 2015 to iron out technical details ahead of negotiations 3 days later between Iran and the "P5+1" powers – the US, France, Germany, Russia, China and Britain. Speaking at a Tehran news conference, Zarif said the purpose of the talks with Kerry "is to see if we can speed up and push the negotiations forward".[38]

In February, Zarif said that Iran did not favor another extension of the talks on limiting its nuclear program and expected economic sanctions to be quickly lifted if an accord was reached. At a security conference in Munich, he said "Sanctions are a liability; you need to get rid of them if you want a solution." Of the long effort to forge an agreement, he said "This is the opportunity to do it, and we need to seize this opportunity. It may not be repeated." The nuclear talks have already been extended twice and face a late March deadline for working out the main outlines of an accord. The deadline for a detailed agreement is the end of June.[39]

Based on the Iran nuclear deal framework, which was declared on 2 April, Iran agreed to accept significant restrictions on its nuclear program for at least a decade and submit to international inspections under a framework deal. In return, international sanctions would be lifted; whether in phases or all at once still needed to be worked out.

Nuclear Agreement[edit]

Zarif posed for a group photo shortly after finalizing the Iran nuclear deal in Vienna on July 4, 2015

On 21 November it was reported by Iranian negotiators that progress was being made in talks in Geneva with world powers, expressing hope to bridge differences and sign an elusive deal over Tehran's nuclear drive. In statements carried by Iranian media after a one-hour meeting with Baroness Ashton, Zarif said "Differences of opinion remain and we are negotiating over them. God willing we will reach a result."[40] Three days later, the Geneva interim agreement, officially titled the Joint Plan of Action,[41] was signed between Iran and the P5+1 countries in Geneva, Switzerland. It consisted of a short-term freeze of portions of Iran's nuclear program in exchange for decreased economic sanctions on Iran, as the countries worked toward a long-term agreement.[7]

Other issues[edit]

Zarif with EU High Representative Federica Mogherini in Tehran, 16 April 2016

On 29 April 2015, while appearing on the Charlie Rose talk-show, Zarif was asked about the detention of Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post reporter held in Iran for the past nine months. He responded, "We do not jail people for their opinions[.]"[42]

Zarif with Venezuela's Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, 2018

Zarif condemned U.S. involvement in the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen, saying the United States should be held "accountable for crimes against humanity".[43]

In an interview conducted by CBS News on 25 April 2019, Zarif said that he was the one who proposed Iran's prisoner swap proposal to the U.S. government in October 2018, the proposal having been unanswered by the U.S. side up till that time. He added that the U.S. government must prove its seriousness before any negotiations.[44][45][46][47]

Resignation[edit]

Zarif stepped down from his post on 25 February 2019, announcing his resignation on Instagram. After greetings in honor of Iranian Women's and Mothers' day, he wrote

I am apologising [to] you (wholeheartedly) for my (inability to continue my service and any) shortcomings in the past years during my time as foreign minister... I thank the Iranian nation and officials.

Zarif did not elaborate or provide any further explanation.[48][49] An aide said that one of the reasons for Zarif's resignation was anger over his exclusion that day from meetings with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, who was visiting Tehran. Rouhani rejected Zarif's resignation two days later. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran's Quds Force, also rejected Zarif's resignation, with Soleimani remarking that Zarif is the "main person in charge of foreign policy."[50]

Sanctions[edit]

In July 2019, the United States has imposed sanctions on Zarif and he was identified by the US as an "illegitimate spokesperson for Iran".[51][52] Meanwhile, European Union rejected US sanctions against Iranian Foreign minister.[53]

Accolades[edit]

National orders[edit]

Ribbon Distinction Country Date Location Ref
Orden al Mérito y Gestión IRI.png Order of Merit and Management, 1st Class  Iran 8 February 2016 Tehran [60]
BOL Order of Condor of the Andes - Grand Cross BAR.png Grand Cross of Order of the Condor of the Andes  Bolivia 26 August 2016 La Paz [61]
OrdenKurmet.png Order of Friendship  Kazakhstan 10 September 2018 Tehran [62]

Personal life[edit]

Zarif with his wife at 35th Fajr International Film Festival

Zarif is married and has a daughter and a son who were born in the United States.[31] He met his wife in summer 1979 through his sister. They married in Iran but moved to New York within several weeks in the midst of the Iranian revolution.[5] In addition to his native Persian, he is fluent in English.

Public image[edit]

Zarif has gained a domestic reputation and popularity among the people.[63][64] According to a poll conducted by Information and Public Opinion Solutions LLC (iPOS) in March 2016, Zarif was the most popular political figure in Iran with 76% approval and 7% disapproval ratings.[65]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ "The Wife of Iran's Foreign Minister Adds a New Twist to the nuclear talks". The Daily Beast. 1 July 2015. Retrieved 15 April 2016.
  3. ^ My children resident in Iran Jaam-e Jam
  4. ^ a b c محمد جواد ظریف سربازی خود را کجا سپری کرده است؟
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  10. ^ CV Dr. M. Javad Zarif Unesco
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External links[edit]

Articles
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Hadi Nejad-Hosseinian
Ambassador to the United Nations
2002–2007
Succeeded by
Mohammad Khazaee
Preceded by
Saeed Jalili
Chief Nuclear Negotiator of Iran
2013–2015
Succeeded by
Abbas Araghchi
as Head of Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action Follow-up Commission
Government offices
Preceded by
Ali Akbar Salehi
Minister of Foreign Affairs
2013–present
Incumbent