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Transcript: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on "Face the Nation"

Zarif weighs in on the Iranian nuclear deal
Zarif weighs in on the Iranian nuclear deal 05:52

On Saturday, CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer spoke with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who negotiated the Iran nuclear agreement on behalf of Iran. 

What follows is a transcript of the interview -- the only interview given to an American broadcast network -- that is airing Sunday, October 15, 2017, on "Face the Nation."

JOHN DICKERSON: We turn now to CBS News Correspondent Elizabeth Palmer, who is in Tehran and spoke exclusively Saturday with Iran's top diplomat, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Liz? 

ELIZABETH PALMER: We were invited to the Foreign Ministry here in Tehran to sit down where Dr. Zarif underlined that five other countries besides the U.S. had signed the Iranian nuclear deal, and no matter what the White House said or did, all five will remain firmly committed to it.

FOREIGN MINISTER JAVAD ZARIF: This is not a bilateral treaty between Iran and the United States. 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 reminder of the term of that president.

ELIZABETH PALMER: Are you thinking of any country in particular right now?

FOREIGN MINISTER JAVAD ZARIF: No, I'm thinking of the entire international community.


FOREIGN MINISTER JAVAD ZARIF: Well, including North Korea. But I believe the entire international community. You see, this administration is withdrawing from everything. Somebody called it withdrawal doctrine for this administration. It's withdrawing from NAFTA. It's withdrawing from Trans Pacific Partnership. It's withdrawing from UNESCO. It's withdrawing from everything. So people cannot trust anymore the word of the United States. You see, in order to bring United States on board on many of these international agreements, a lot of people make a lot of concessions. Now nobody is going to make any concessions to the United States because they know that the next U.S. president will come back and say, "It wasn't enough, we're not satisfied."

ELIZABETH PALMER: Let us say that Donald Trump eventually does pull the U.S. out of the agreement unilaterally. Will you stay in with the Europeans, Russia, and China and make it work with them alone?

FOREIGN MINISTER JAVAD ZARIF: If one party withdraws from deal, particularly the United States, and starts in fact violating the most important elements of the deal, then Iran will decide whether--

ELIZABETH PALMER: So, you're not going to commit now to staying in if U.S. pulls out?

FOREIGN MINISTER JAVAD ZARIF: We have committed ourselves not to be the first party to withdraw from this deal.

ELIZABETH PALMER: But that's it?

FOREIGN MINISTER JAVAD ZARIF: Provided that our economic dividends that have been enshrined in this deal are respected and Iran continues to receive those dividends. Once Iran does not receive those dividends, then it would be a totally different situation.

ELIZABETH PALMER: Secretary Rex Tillerson called around late in the day yesterday to give various allies and world leaders a heads up about what was to come. Did he call you?



FOREIGN MINISTER JAVAD ZARIF: I didn't expect him to.

ELIZABETH PALMER: You didn't expect him to.


ELIZABETH PALMER: Not even as a courtesy?

FOREIGN MINISTER JAVAD ZARIF: Well, there's not much courtesy left in the way the United States treats the rest of the world.

ELIZABETH PALMER: You are a partner with United States and other countries in this nuclear deal now that implies a huge amount of diplomatic engagement. Why doesn't that give you the privilege to talk to the secretary of state directly?

FOREIGN MINISTER JAVAD ZARIF: Well, I think that is a decision the United States has made.

ELIZABETH PALMER: You did it with John Kerry.

FOREIGN MINISTER JAVAD ZARIF: We certainly did, and it produced a lot of results. It produced a lot of positive results. It averted some rather nasty scenarios. But this administration has decided to play in a totally different manner. And I can assure you that Iranian dignity and pride will not allow us to engage when mutual respect and equal footing are not respected by one party.

ELIZABETH PALMER: Have you spoken to the supreme leader since President Trump's speech?

FOREIGN MINISTER JAVAD ZARIF: No. It's been late last night. He spoke late last night, and we know his views about it. We had briefed the leader about what he was going to say. Because--

ELIZABETH PALMER: What was his reaction?

FOREIGN MINISTER JAVAD ZARIF: Pretty much everybody knew. And he said, "I expected it."

ELIZABETH PALMER: So, there was a little bit of I told you so, because he had been against the deal from the beginning--


ELIZABETH PALMER: --and has never trusted the United States. Did he say, "You see? I was right all along."

FOREIGN MINISTER JAVAD ZARIF: None of us ever trusted the United States. This deal was not based on trust. It was based on mutual mistrust. And I think that was the strength of this deal. It's not something bad about the deal. It's the strength of the deal, but unfortunately, the way President Trump is handling it, it's widening the mistrust, not only between Iran and the United States, but between the global community and the United States where the U.S. is no longer not just unpredictable but unreliable.

ELIZABETH PALMER: Have you given up for the moment on trying to establish better relations with the Trump administration to try and dial back the rhetoric?

FOREIGN MINISTER JAVAD ZARIF: Well, I believe the Trump administration is closing its eyes on the realities of our region. And it's getting into a quagmire that would harm U.S. national interests and would harm, because of the significance of the United States as a global player, will harm our region. We believe it would be important for the United States for the Trump administration to exercise a reset in its cognitive disorder with regard to our region.

ELIZABETH PALMER: With such huge implications for everything from Iran's economy to its national security, you know that all eyes in the Iranian government are now fixed on the U.S. Congress. John?

JOHN DICKERSON: Liz Palmer for us in Tehran, thanks, Liz.

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