Iran Schools Duplicitous Letter-Writing US Senatorial Conservatives

Teaching Moment On U.S. Constitution and Diplomacy to Sophomoric GOP Senators

From Iranian Ministry Of Foreign Affairs (Smack, In Your Face):

[In response to] the open letter of 47 US Senators to Iranian leaders, the Iranian Foreign Minister, Dr. Javad Zarif, responded that, “In our view, this letter has no legal value and is mostly a propaganda ploy.” It is very interesting that while negotiations are still in progress and while no agreement has been reached, some political pressure groups are so afraid even of the prospect of an agreement that they resort to unconventional methods, unprecedented in diplomatic history. This indicates that like Netanyahu, who considers peace as an existential threat, some are opposed to any agreement, regardless of its content.


Zarif expressed astonishment that some members of US Congress find it appropriate to write to leaders of another country against their own President and administration. He pointed out that from reading the open letter, it seems that the authors 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.

Foreign Minister Zarif added that, “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 fulfil the obligations they undertake with other states and may not invoke their internal law as justification for failure to perform their international obligations.

The Iranian Foreign Minister added that, “Change of administration does not in any way relieve the next administration from international obligations undertaken by its predecessor in a possible agreement about Iran`s peaceful nuclear program.” He continued, “I wish to enlighten the authors that if the next administration revokes any agreement with the stroke of a pen, as they boast, it will have simply committed a blatant violation of international law.”

He emphasized that if the current negotiation with P5+1 result in a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, it will not be a bilateral agreement between Iran and the US, but rather one that will be concluded with the participation of five other countries, including all permanent members of the Security Council, and will also be endorsed by a Security Council resolution.

Zarif expressed the hope that his comments, “may enrich the knowledge of the authors to recognize that according to international law, Congress may not modify the terms of the agreement at any time as they claim,” and if Congress adopts any measure to impede its implementation, it will have committed a material breach of US obligations.

The Foreign Minister also informed the authors that majority of US international agreements in recent decades are in fact what the signatories describe as “mere executive agreements” and not treaties ratified by the Senate.

He reminded them that “their letter in fact undermines the credibility of thousands of such mere executive agreements” that have been or will be entered into by the US with various other governments.

Zarif concluded by stating that “the Islamic Republic of Iran has entered these negotiations in good faith and with the political will to reach an agreement, and it is imperative for our counterparts to prove similar good faith and political will in order to make an agreement possible.”


3 responses to “Iran Schools Duplicitous Letter-Writing US Senatorial Conservatives

  • Jeremy Listerud

    The overall message of the statement from Iran is what I have been trying to our government officials and our citizens here in the U.S. Javad Zarif, and Pres. Rouhani are in compliance with the U.N. on the nuclear program and are agreeing to U.S. sanctions deals to alleviate war tensions. But ultimately Iran does not have to abide by U.S. “sanctions” unless the U.N. deems it necessary.. I applaud Dr. Zarif for standing up for what the U.N. was developed for. On a personal Note: Thank You Mr. Zarif for following international laws set by the U.N. which my ancestors helped create for a more peaceful and tolerant world.

  • Artemose Prime

    Cute, but Minister Zarif totally misses the point. The United States can’t enter into a treaty without the advice and consent of the Senate. If it a treaty is not ratified by the Senate – such as the Kyoto Protocols – then it does not apply to the US because the parties negotiating (ie the President and his State Department) are not authorized to enter into legally binding agreements without the consent of the Senate. International law only applies to agreements and treaties where the signatories did so with the proper authorization of their nation – whatever the local form of government might be. So rather than schooling anyone, Minister Zarif has only displayed both a failure to understand the text of the letter and his own continued ignorance regarding both international law and our Constitution. The latter is forgivable, since this is our country, not his, but to fail to apparently grasp such a fundamental point of international law, suggests that the man is either vastly out of his depth in his job or lying. Given how important this matter is to Iran, I doubt that they would have appointed an incompetent to his position, so Occam’s Razor suggests that this man is prevaricating – and thus whatever else he says in the course of any negotiations is logically suspect.

    • Coronare Modestus Faust

      Actually what’s cute is the you didn’t know that Zarif came to the US at 17 years old and educated at a private college-prep high school, then at US universities earned a Bachelors degree and Two Master’s degrees in International Relations, finished off with a PhD in International Law and Policy. In fact, most of the leading Iranian officials are US-educated. So, he is not ignorant, as you assert, of the US Constitution nor of International Law. In point of fact, he is expert at those subjects.

      And Minister Zarif addressed your point directly when he wrote: the “majority of US international agreements in recent decades are in fact what the signatories describe as ‘mere executive agreements’ and not treaties ratified by the Senate.” You are correct that if the President negotiates a Treaty, then he needs the consent of the Senate, but if he negotiates an agreement, then the US Constitution provides him alone the authority. To your point that the next President or Congress can void past agreements, he addresses that misnomer, by pointing out that the agreement would be executed under International Law, which supersedes the US Constitution in the world. In other words, the US Constitutions applies only in the US and not upon any other nation. The way Zarif phrases 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.”

      So, yes, sure, the next President or Congress may wish to negate or cancel the “agreement” because it is not an agreed Treaty with the Senate, but that only applies within our national boundaries. The agreement under International Law is not overriden by the Constitution, and if we failed to live up to the agreement, we would be liable under International Law. Now, in practicality what this means is that if the agreement is voided illegally under International Law, then the United States’ credibility and full faith will have been destroyed, and no agreement we ever negotiate can be trusted. This will render our foreign policy impotent and likely impact the value of our dollar and interest rates on the world markets. We would be the recalcitrant, petulant child-nation that American Conservatives seem bent on proving we are (well, actually “they” are…many of us are still responsible, mature adults—just held hostage by conservative antics).

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