“We believe that the United States is pushing a new sort of violent unilateralism, an extremist unilateralism, which destroys all the foundations of global order,” Iran’s top diplomat told China's state-run Xinhua news agency during an interview in China published on Friday.
He made the comment in response to a question whether he agreed with China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi that the Iran 2015 nuclear deal - officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – is in fact a contest between unilateralism and multilateralism, Press TV wrote.
Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – the US, France, Britain, Russia and China – plus Germany signed the JCPOA on July 2015 and started implementing it on January 16, 2016.
Under the landmark accord, Iran undertook to put limits on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions.
However, US President Donald Trump pulled his country out of JCPOA in May last year and launched the “maximum pressure” against the Islamic Republic, reimposing the sanctions it had lifted under the agreement.
Elaborating on the reasons why the US sticks to unilateralism and the best way to counter it, Zarif noted that “multilateralism is the best countermeasure against unilateral tendencies by the United States.”
He also said that the US and particularly the administration of Trump “strongly believes in the use of coercive measures”, which “usually threaten the lives of ordinary citizens,” and “that is why Iran and China rightly called these actions by the United States economic terrorism.”
He also insisted that “dialogue and working for the common good and common destiny” were the best ways to deal with the “very negative tendencies” promoted by Washington.
“That’s how we view the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as a program and as a process to bring about greater economic connectivity and greater economic growth and development to the countries within the BRI,” the Iranian foreign minister said, adding that this is the reason why Iran has supported the initiative and is a major partner to it.
The BRI is a global development strategy adopted by the Chinese President Xi Jinping and it involves infrastructure development and investments in 152 countries and international organizations across the world.
Zarif also said that the BRI is important for Iran since “we see the Belt and Road Initiative as a possibility to enhance growth and connectivity and also to address some of the regional problems, including drug trafficking, poverty.”
He also said that Iran can willingly offer both its North-South and East-West corridors to promote the BRI.
Commenting on the months-long unrest in Hong Kong, Zarif said that Iran calls for holding talks to reach mutual understanding, insisting that intervention cannot solve problem.
He also lambasted the US for intervening in China-Hong Kong internal affairs.
Since June, Hong Kong has been beset by unrest over an extradition bill that would have allowed the extradition of suspects to mainland courts for trial. Although the government of the semi-autonomous Chinese region has dropped that bill, protests have persisted, with individuals more routinely resorting to violence.
Beijing has repeatedly warned against violence in the region and has accused foreign countries, mainly the United States and Britain, of provoking the riots. The Chinese government has asked the two countries to stop meddling in Hong Kong’s affairs.
Hong Kong has been governed under a “one-country, two-system” model since the city — a former British colony — was returned to China in 1997.