Iranian officials are notorious for denying the Holocaust – but the country’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, on Wednesday published in an op-ed in The Washington Post in which he used the Holocaust to justify his country’s nuclear program.
“The words ‘never again’ resonate with Iranians, too,” Zarif wrote, using the phrase commonly associated with the Holocaust.
Zarif blasted those critics of what he claimed was his country’s “peaceful nuclear program”, adding that “some of those who agitated against the JCPOA were blatant in their efforts to drag the region into yet another disastrous war. They did — and continue to do — their utmost to convince their Western allies to return to the broken taboo against engaging with Iran
He charged that critics were “scare-mongering about Iran and its defensive capabilities” and accused the West of not being “focused on joining hands to eradicate militant extremism.”
“Neither is there much discussion of how a country such as Saudi Arabia has become the world’s third-biggest military spender, overtaking Russia. And rather than focusing on how Yemen was bombed to rubble for 12 relentless months — and thus turned into a tinderbox of famine and poverty and a breeding ground for Al-Qaeda — scare-mongering about Iran and its defensive capabilities is back in full swing,” wrote Zarif.
It was in writing about the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s that Zarif used the term “never again” and added, “It is against this backdrop that we develop and test our indigenous defensive capabilities. We have no other choice, as we continue to face major hurdles in fulfilling our military hardware needs from abroad, even as our neighbors procure such hardware in mind-boggling quantities. Indeed, our military budget, for all the alarm raised by the West whenever we test a new system, is a small fraction of what is spent by our neighbors, which have a fraction of our territory or population to defend.”
The comments are ironic given that Iran consistently denies the Holocaust ever took place. Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denied the Holocaust on a regular basis and, prior to leaving the presidency, said he prided himself most on his denial of the Holocaust.
Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, two years ago suggested that the Holocaust “was not real”, and this past January took advantage of International Holocaust Remembrance Day to deny that the Holocaust ever occurred.
Iran’s current President, Hassan Rouhani, told CNN shortly after being elected that the Holocaust was a “reprehensible” crime against the Jewish people, but Iran later claimed the network had misquoted Rouhani.