In response to the open letter penned by Freshman Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) and signed by 46 other Senators including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) Vice President Joe Biden said that it was “beneath the dignity of an institution I revere.”
President Obama said that he found it ironic that they would join forces with Iranian hardliners who are also opposed to a deal on Iran’s nuclear development program.
However the most interesting response to the letter came from Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, one of those to whom the letter was addressed. The letter began with a condescending statement that Iranian officials “may not fully understand our constitutional system,” implying that government officials in other nations have not studied our government and need to be educated about the basics of how it works.
Zarif quickly disabused them of that notion by saying that the Senators:
“not only do not understand international law, but are not fully cognizant of the nuances of their own Constitution when it comes to presidential powers in the conduct of foreign policy.”
Zarif is not a stranger to the U.S. He moved here at the age of 17 and attended Drew College Preparatory School before going on to San Francisco State where he earned a BA in International Relations and later a MA in the same subject. From there he went on to earn a second MA in International Relations followed by a PhD in International Law and Policy from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver.
The Minister characterized the letter as having “no legal value” and as “mostly a propaganda ploy.”
Taking a page from the Senators who wrote the letter and said that they wanted to educate Iran, Zarif offered to “enrich the knowledge of the authors” saying:
“I should bring one important point to the attention of the authors and that is, the world is not the United States, and the conduct of inter-state relations is governed by international law, and not by US domestic law. The authors may not fully understand that in international law, governments represent the entirety of their respective states, are responsible for the conduct of foreign affairs, are required to fulfill the obligations they undertake with other states and may not invoke their internal law as justification for failure to perform their international obligations.”
h/t: Daily Kos