US addicted to applying sanctions: Iran Foreign Minister

Tehran: The US is addicted to applying sanctions on Iran, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told CNN in an exclusive interview.

“I believe there is a disease in the US and that is the addiction to sanctions,” he told CNN on Sunday from Tehran.

“Even during the (former President Barack) Obama administration, the US put more emphasis on keeping the sanctions it had not lifted rather than implementing its obligation on the sanctions it lifted.”

The interview is the first Zarif, the key architect of the complex nuclear deal between Iran and the West, gave to Western media since some of the US sanctions against Tehran were renewed last week.

The US-educated minister gave the interview in English on the 65th anniversary of a Washington-backed coup that overthrew democratically elected Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh.

Zarif retained a clear belief during the hour-long interview that the nuclear deal could be revived regardless of President Donald Trump’s administration’s denunciation of it.

In May, Trump withdrew from the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and intended to limit Iran’s nuclear ambitions in exchange for sanctions relief, calling it a “horrible one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made”.

The first wave of sanctions that were to “snap back” under the administration’s move hit the import of car parts and precious metals on August 6.

Zarif expressed his dismay that the US has not learned that sanctions were ineffective in changing the political climate in Iran.

“We felt that the US had learned that at least as far as Iran is concerned, sanctions do produce economic hardship but do not produce the political outcomes that they intended them to produce, and I thought that the Americans had learned that lesson. Unfortunately I was wrong,” the Minister told CNN.

He said that the same ’50s thinking embodied the current US approach.

“I think the US administration still believes that it is working with the government it installed in Iran after the 1953 coup,” he said, adding “As they say, they have to wake up and smell the coffee.”

For much of the interview, Zarif appeared to dismiss the possibility of future talks with the Trump administration and maintain the hope the deal can be revived.

“We do not want to revisit that nuclear deal… We want the US to implement that nuclear deal. Today the closest US allies are resisting those sanctions. The US basically arm-twisting — its attempt to put pressure. I don’t want to use the term bullying … (but) that’s what it amounts to.”

Additional sanctions are due to hit Tehran in November against the Iranian oil industry, which accounts for a fifth of the country’s GDP.