Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tells NPR that the U.S. “will pay” for a drone strike that killed the commander of the country’s elite Quds Force, which he described as an act of “both terrorism and war.”
Speaking with All Things Considered host Mary Louise Kelly in Tehran, Zarif said last week’s assassination of Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani was “a cowardly armed attack” that “amounts to war.”
“[We] will respond according to our own timing and choice,” he said.
Pressed on specifics of an Iranian response to the drone strike that killed Soleimani in neighboring Iraq, Zarif said, “We will decide.”
“[In] exercising our right to self-defense, we are bound by international law, unlike the United States, which is not bound by international law,” he told NPR.
Soleimani, who led the Quds Force, an elite unit of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which the Trump administration has labeled a terrorist organization, was seen as a national hero. His funeral this week has drawn hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions of mourners across the country.
Referring to the deployment of U.S. forces in Iraq, Zarif said the reaction to Soleimani’s death would “make it almost impossible for the U.S. to continue to stay in this region.”
In what he said was another consequence of the assassination of Soleimani, Zarif said there would be no further discussions of prisoner exchanges with the United States.
A number of American citizens are detained in Iran, and Zarif said, “We had proposed a universal exchange of all prisoners.
“I don’t think at this time we can discuss those issues. We have to deal with the present issue at hand, unfortunately.”
The Iranian foreign minister also said that the U.S. had failed to issue him a visa to attend the U.N. Security Council in New York on Thursday, where he was scheduled to deliver an address. Zarif said he had requested the visa 25 days ago, but said the State Department informed the U.N. that it “didn’t have enough time to issue a visa.”
Read the full article on NPR, January 7, 2020