Red lines "are just political," says Iranian top diplomat

In an interview with "Face the Nation" moderator Margaret Brennan, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif offered his take on the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime on civilians in Douma, a rebel stronghold now overtaken by Bashar al-Assad's forces.

"Opposition on the use of chemical weapons is crystal clear for everybody. For everybody," Zarif told "Face the Nation" when asked if Iran had told Bashar al-Assad not to use chemical weapons. "We haven't made any conditions on our rejection of the use of chemical weapons." The Syrian regime has ardently denied their involvement in the attack.

Zarif also condemned the retaliatory missile strike, commenting that the coalition was "taking law into their own hands" and advocated for an "international response" rather than "unilateral action". A UN proposal spearheaded by Russia to condemn the missiles strikes was voted down last week by the UN Security Council.

Since the alleged chemical gas attacks took place in Douma, chemical weapons inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had been denied access to Douma, able only Saturday to visit a site in Douma to "collect samples for analysis." 

Russia and Syria had cited "pending security issues" as grounds to turn the team away. On Thursday, U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert announced that the U.S. had "credible information" that Russia and Syrian entities were sanitizing chemical weapon attack locations.

"We do encourage as we have in the past, Syria to cooperate with onsite, impartial investigation," Zarif said when asked whether or not Iran would help facilitate the inspections. According to the OPCW, the team was able to reach Douma on Saturday, where test samples would be taken and then be transferred to Rijswijk, Netherlands, for review.

Zarif also offered his wishes for the future of the region, saying "There are no military solutions to the crises in our region," he said, "People have to admit and accept that people of the country of Syria, of Yemen, need to sit together. And reach a political solution." 

President Trump had also announced his intentions to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from the Syrian region, drawing controversy from within the U.S. government, from military generals, state department officials, and fellow Republicans.

"The sooner they bring them to an end, the better it is for the region and for the United States" Zarif said on the issue, "I think the United States is simply trying to find excuses to prevent an end to this nightmare."


Margaret Brennan interviewed Mohammad Javad Zarif for "Face the Nation."