"We are resisting an unprovoked aggression by the United States," Zarif told NPR's Steve Inskeep in an interview in New York City on Sunday. "I can assure you that the United States will not be able to bring us to our knees through pressure."
"Abandon the illusion that Iran can be defeated by pressure," said Zarif, who spoke with NPR ahead of this week's United Nations General Assembly.
“I can assure you that the United States will not be able to bring us to our knees through pressure. The United States can have a much better deal with Iran if they started talking to us based on respect, based on mutual respect and based on moving forward”, the Iranian foreign minister said.
“Next Wednesday, there is going to be a meeting in which four of the five permanent members [of the UN Security Council] plus Germany will be seated around the table along with me and the High Representative of the European Union. There is an empty chair there for the United States, but there is a ticket for that chair and that is to be law abiding”, he added.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will address the UN on Wednesday, where he is expected to introduce a new peace plan for the Persian Gulf region.
The Iranian delegation's visit to the US comes at a time of heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington following recent Yemen’s attacks on Saudi Arabia.
On Friday, the US announced fresh economic sanctions against Iran on the pretext of Iran’s involvement in a Sept. 14 attack on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia. Iran has repeatedly denied involvement in the attack claimed by Yemen’s Houthi fighters.
Asked about the US accusations that Iran was behind the air strikes on Saudi oil facilities, the Iranian foreign minister said that he knows that Iran didn't have anything to do with it.
“I know that Iran didn't have anything to do with it. Who did it? I just take the Yemeni claim at face value. If you want to go to conspiracy theory and ask who had an interest in doing that, there'd be a lot of people in the list of interested participants – not least of which the United States and Israel”, the Iranian top diplomat said.
Tensions have been running high between the US and Iran since Washington’s decision in May last year to abandon the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions on Tehran as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign aimed at forcing it to renegotiate a new deal that addresses its ballistic missile program and regional influence as well.
Tensions between the two nations deteriorated after Iran shot down a US surveillance drone on June 20 following its violation of Iranian airspace.
Several oil tankers were also targeted near the Persian Gulf last month, with Washington and its ally Saudi Arabia quickly blaming Iran for the suspicious attacks.
Tehran has rejected the accusations, saying the incidents in the Sea of Oman appear to be false flags meant to frame the Islamic Republic.
Since then, the US officials have frequently threatened military action against Iran.
Last week, Zarif warned that if either the US or Saudi Arabia hit militarily at Iran, it would lead to "all-out war." However, he told NPR that Iran would willingly participate in an impartial, international investigation into the strikes.