In the New Yorker, Robin Wright profiles Javad Zarif, Iran’s Westernized foreign minister who also acts as its chief nuclear negotiator (no link because it’s behind a paywall). While she writes as if she accepts the conventional wisdom that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons and MUST BE STOPPED, we’re in Ms. Wright’s debt for the revealing glimpses into Zarif’s character that she provides. She writes that “Zarif is an affable man, with a disarmingly unrevolutionary grin” and “a quick wit.” She quotes Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) who said, “He is thoughtful. He is real.”
Zarif tells Ms. Wright that
… Iran has no intention of producing either weapons or weapons-grade material. “We do not consider that to be in our interests, or within our security doctrine,” he says.
Zarif had expanded on that in a Foreign Affairs article that she quotes:
… the Iranian government believes that even a perception that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons is detrimental to the country’s security and to its regional role, since attempts by Iran to gain strategic superiority in the Persian Gulf would inevitably provoke responses that would diminish Iran’s conventional military advantage.
His logic — unless you refuse to accept the evidence and cling to the fringe belief that Tehran is ideological , not logical — is impeccable. Meanwhile, curiously, Ms. Wright reports, Zarif has not actually visited any of Iran’s nuclear energy, enrichment, or research facilities.
“It would be nice, in terms of national pride,” he said. “But I wouldn’t understand much, because I’m not a nuclear physicist. I’m a negotiator.”