Mohammad Javad Zarif

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told a U.S. television audience that the Holocaust was “a heinous crime” and a “genocide”, while blaming poor translation for the fact that the word “myth” appears on the Iranian Supreme Leader’s English-language website in reference to the Holocaust.

“The Holocaust is not a myth. Nobody's talking about a myth,” Zarif told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s "This Week" on Sunday, when asked about the quote on the Supreme Leader’s site. “If it’s there … it’s a bad translation and it’s translated out of context… This is the problem when you translate something from Persian to English, you may lose something, as the film goes, ‘Lost in Translation,’ you may lose some of the meaning.”

The Iranian foreign minister went on to explain: “We condemn the killing of innocent people, whether it happened in Nazi Germany or whether it's happening in Palestine… the Holocaust was a heinous crime, it was a genocide, it must never be allowed to be repeated, but that crime cannot be and should not be a justification to trample the rights of the Palestinian people for 60 years.”

Zarif commented on Iranian-U.S. relations, saying: “This mutual distrust has built up over 34 years. We need to move in that direction of removing some of that mistrust, with each side taking real, mutual steps to convince each other that its intentions are positive and aiming for a better future for all of us.”

Stressing that the first step toward easing tensions is the resolution of the nuclear issue, Zarif said: “We know that Iran is not seeking a nuclear weapon. Having an Iran that does not have nuclear weapons is not just your goal. It's first and foremost our goal.”

He emphasized, however, that Iran’s right to enrich uranium is non-negotiable but he added that Iran will not seek weapons-grade uranium.

Mr. Zarif also called for the dismantling of the “illegal sanctions” imposed on Iran by the United States.
“There has been a lot of arm-twisting… by certain elements within the U.S. government, which have tried to put pressure on ordinary Iranian people. Sanctions are not a useful tool for implementing policy. And the United States needs to change that,” Zarif said.

The Iranian foreign minister also addressed the Israeli prime minister’s dismissal of Iran’s recent diplomatic efforts as “a smile attack”, saying:  “A smile attack is much better than a lie attack. Mr. Netanyahu and his colleagues have been saying since 1991… that Iran is six months away from a nuclear weapon. And we are how many years, 22 years after that? And they are still saying we are six months away from nuclear weapons.”

Mr. Zarif reiterated Iran’s position regarding nuclear armaments, saying: “We are not seeking nuclear weapons, so we're not six months, six years, 60 years away from nuclear weapons.”