President Hassan Rouhani says the notions of diplomacy and military field in Iran do not stand in opposition to one another, but that they serve as two arms that enable the country to achieve victories on the world stage.
He made the remarks at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, amid criticism in the country of Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s remarks in a leaked audio file, in which the top diplomat is heard criticizing what he describes as the primacy that the “field,” or military power, has over “diplomacy” under the Iranian government.
“If anyone thinks that either the field or diplomacy, either the battleground or negotiation, either foreign policy or defense policy is the winner, that is not an accurate thing to say,” Rouhani said. “They constitute the two arms [of the country] that should complement each other. Two hands eventually do one job. Our country has a precisely-defined framework. All complex foreign and defense policy issues are reviewed by the Supreme National Security Council.”
In the leaked comments, Zarif was also heard criticizing some actions of martyred General Qassem Soleimani, which he had taken in parallel with those of the ministry under Zarif’s watch in dealing with regional issues.
Rouhani hailed the performance of Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, who was assassinated by the US, saying the outcome of his endeavors can be observed in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen.
The martyrdom of General Soleimani “was the work of the Zionists,” said Rouhani, adding that it was ex-US president Donald Trump who ordered the Iranian iconic figure’s assassination, but the criminal act was in fact incited by the Israelis behind the scene.
Rouhani described the leaking of Zarif’s audiotape as an enemy conspiracy aimed at isolating the country.
The discussions, which were supposed to be archived as part of a classified ‘oral history’ project, were first released by so-called Iran International, a Saudi-funded TV channel operating against the Islamic Republic from London.
“Today, they (the enemies) are angry because whatever they did went down the drain. For four years, the Zionists and the reactionary (regimes) conspired, the extremists conspired, but they all ended up as losers. Today, the P4+1 and even the Americans realized that they have no choice but to give in to international law and regulations and the legitimacy of Iran. They must surrender to Iran,” Rouhani said.
He was referring to ongoing talks between diplomats from Iran, China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany in Vienna within the framework of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) Joint Commission.
The discussions are aimed at reviving the JCPOA that has been in crisis since May 2018, when former US President Donald Trump withdrew from the multilateral accord and unleashed the “toughest ever” sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
Rouhani said that part of Zarif’s interview was supposed to be published and the rest was to be kept confidential, adding, “Here, a theft has taken place. An individual or a group has been behind it. The Intelligence Ministry must do its best to find out how this file was stolen, and anyone found guilty of (theft) or negligence of duty must be dealt with decisively.”
“Exactly at a time when Vienna [diplomatic process] is at the height of its success, they release it (the interview) to create a rift inside the country,” the president added.
He further emphasized, “Trump acted as a mercenary of the Zionists. The party that incited Trump to leave the JCPOA was the Zionist regime.”