Iranian foreign minister on if he could ever work with Mike Pompeo

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Mike Pompeo's nomination and possible confirmation to be the next U.S. Secretary of State is an indication to the international community that the U.S. is "not serious" about international obligations, including holding up the Iran nuclear deal.

Asked in an interview airing Sunday on CBS News' "Face the Nation" if he would be able to work with the new secretary if Pompeo is confirmed, Zarif said he would have to "wait and see."

"The requirement for any international engagement is mutual respect," Zarif said in the interview with Margaret Brennan.

He added, "the indications that we have seen up until now -- not been very encouraging. We will have to wait to make a judgment on the new Secretary of State."  

Zarif said Pompeo's Capitol Hill testimony that Iran was not "racing towards a bomb" was a "late admission but better than never."

"They put sanctions on Iran at that time because we were not racing for a bomb and now they want to reimpose sanctions on Iran because we are not racing for a bomb, it's interesting," Zarif added.

While Pompeo wouldn't explicitly say whether he will advocate to stay in -- or pull out of -- the Iran deal during lawmakers' questioning, he said that bolstering the nuclear pact would be a priority if he's confirmed, adding that fixing the deal is in the country's best interest. He noted that if the deal could not be fixed and the president continues to withdraw, he'd advocate for a tougher one. 

As for the future of the deal as Mr. Trump's new national security adviser John Bolton aims for possible regime change in Iran, Zarif says the U.S. "never abandoned the idea of regime change in Iran" and instead are just "more explicit about stating it."

Zarif said Iran is "ready" to restart its controversial nuclear program if the Trump administration leaves the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and reinstates sanctions. 

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on possible nuclear deal pullout

"We have put a number of options for ourselves, and those options are ready, including options that would involve resuming at a much greater speed our nuclear activities," Zarif said. 

When CBS News interviewed Zarif in October, he said "nobody will trust" the U.S. to engage in any long-term negotiations if the Iran deal blows up. That includes North Korea, he said at the time — relevant now perhaps more than ever, as the U.S. looks to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in the months ahead.

"This is not a bilateral treaty between Iran and the U.S.," Zarif said at the time. "So whatever domestic politicking he wants to do, that's his business. You know, the United States is a permanent member of the Security Council. And if it's not going to uphold a resolution, that not only it voted for but it sponsored, then the credibility of the institution that the United States considers to be very important would be at stake."

"Nobody else will trust any U.S. administration to engage in any long-term negotiation because the length of any commitment, the duration of any commitment from now on with any U.S. administration would be the remainder of the term of that president," Zarif had said.

  • Kathryn Watson

    Kathryn Watson is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.