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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Iran’s Foreign Minister Invokes 9/11 Attack to Argue for Collective Security

Before the start of talks on Iran’s nuclear program in Geneva on Tuesday, the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, referred to what he called a lesson of the terrorist attacks in the United States on Sept. 11, 2001 in an interview with NBC News.

Mr. Zarif, who negotiated Iranian intelligence assistance for American forces in Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks, told NBC’s Ann Curry that in an increasingly interconnected world, “there can be no winners and losers.”

We either lose together or win together. That’s the nature of global political environment. You cannot have security while others are insecure. You cannot have prosperity while others live in poverty. Probably, if anything, 9/11 should have proved that to all of us. That an island of security in an unsecure world is impossible. Security is indivisible. So we should not shoot for concessions. Either getting concessions or giving concessions.

Given that Iran’s last president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, publicly endorsed the 9/11 conspiracy theory that “some segments within the U.S. government orchestrated” the terrorist attacks, Mr. Zarif’s remarks were yet another sign that the Iranian approach to the West has shifted dramatically in tone.

While the foreign minister made no reference to Israel, which has called Iran’s nuclear program an intolerable threat to its security, Israeli leaders have frequently used the metaphor of an island surrounded by hostile seas to describe their nation. Last month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the Israeli military and intelligence services for “watching over Israel, an island of tranquillity, quiet and security,” amid “the storm raging around us.”