Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced on Monday that he was resigning, but later seemed to have resumed his diplomatic duties, after his request was denied by President Hassan Rouhani.
In the coverage of Iran’s diplomatic melodrama, it hasn’t been uncommon for news reports to characterize Zarif as a moderate, whose leadership made the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers possible. Zarif’s resignation was portrayed as collateral damage due to the deal not providing Iran with its promised benefits, and the withdrawal of the United States from the accord last year.
Trita Parsi, the former head of the National Iranian American Council and a major supporter of the nuclear deal, summed up this line of thinking to CNN, saying: “If Zarif ends up being replaced, at least one dimension of this is that the Trump administration’s war on the JCPOA inevitably led to political casualties in Iran.”
For this analysis to be true, Zarif would have to be a moderate who negotiated a deal to end Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions in good faith. But it can empirically be shown that neither proposition is true. Zarif is no moderate, and the nuclear deal delayed — but did not end — Iran’s quest for nukes.