Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, has reportedly been ordered by his country Supreme Leader to stop shouting and yelling at Secretary of State John Kerry during negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program, reports The Washington Free Beacon.
According to the report, Zarif told his country’s state-controlled media in a recent interview that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has instructed him to stop yelling at Kerry and other top U.S. officials during the talks.
Reports about Zarif’s temper first emerged in the Iranian press last November, when the United States and Iran agreed to extend talks through June of this year.
Zarif is said to “frequently shout at Western diplomats” with such force that bodyguards have been forced to enter the negotiation room, according to the Free Beacon.
During one incident described by Iranian officials to the press, then-European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton admitted that Zarif had been shouting, but said she had gotten used to it.
Abbas Araqchi, an Iranian diplomat who is also a member of the negotiating team, is reported to have said in an interview that during past negotiations in Geneva, Zarif “shouted” at Kerry and spoke to him in a manner “unprecedented” in the history of U.S. diplomacy.
Zarif appeared to cop to this behavior during a recent interview with the state-controlled IRNA news agency, according to an independent translation of the report provided to the Free Beacon.
Following reports that Zarif shouts at Kerry, Zarif was summoned to a meeting with Khamenei. He referred to this meeting during recent remarks made to a high school class, according to IRNA.
“‘Why you are yelling in negotiations? Smile and speak,’” he recalled the Supreme Leader saying. “‘Do not quarrel on the negotiation table, reason with them,’” Khamenei continued, according to Zarif.
The Iranian minister told the news agency that he begins each day by praying over six verses of the Quran before entering the nuclear discussions. He went on to say that U.S. sanctions no longer have an impact on Tehran.
“Doing business and trade with Iran had a huge reputational cost” for foreigners, but now the situation has changed, according to Zarif. “More sanctions on Iran makes U.S. isolated among its own friends.”
The State Department declined to comment on reports about the Iranian Foreign Minister’s conversations with the Iranian Supreme Leader.
The report surfaced as Zarif and Kerry are set to meet again in Geneva this weekend for talks on Tehran's nuclear program.
The meeting was first reported on Thursday by Iranian officials and was confirmed later by State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, who said the two men would meet on Sunday in Geneva as "part of the ongoing nuclear negotiations".
Iran and the six world powers reached an interim deal in November of 2013, under which Iran committed to limit its uranium enrichment to five percent and is gradually winning access to $4.2 billion of its oil revenues frozen abroad and some other sanctions relief.
The sides were then supposed to continue talks and turn the interim deal into a permanent one. However, the talks have stalled and two deadlines for a final deal have been missed, with a third one looming.
Recent reports indicated that the United States is ceding ground to Iran in talks and will now allow it to “keep much of its uranium-enriching technology,” thus allowing Iran to maintain its self-proclaimed “right to enrich uranium”.