Iran's Zarif: Trump pushed US and Iran 'close to the brink of war'
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in an interview with NBC News on Friday 14 February 2020 said Iran and the US exchanged angry letters during the recent confrontation that followed the U.S. drone strike that killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and that the two sides came "very close to the brink of war".
Iran Press/Europe: In an interview with NBC Correspondent, Zarif said relations remained tense after the January showdown and blamed US President Donald Trump for pursuing a misguided policy toward Iran.
"It's unfortunate that the United States, based on misinformation, based on ignorance and arrogance, combined on a course that has brought the region very close to the brink," Zarif said adding: "We were very close to a war."
The Iranian Foreign Minister said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had written an "extremely inappropriate letter to Iran" at the height of the crisis in January and that his government responded with a strongly worded reply.
Pompeo's letter contained "threats," Zarif said, but he said he would not repeat what was written as it was beneath him. "Let him say what he put in that letter."
Zarif said the response from Iran's Foreign Ministry was "not as impolite as Pompeo's letter."
The Iranian foreign minister, speaking on the sidelines of an annual security conference in Munich, Germany, acknowledged that the tone of communication between the two governments had deteriorated.
Zarif blamed the US administration for triggering the crisis and said that it was up to Trump to pull back.
Zarif also defended Iran's decision not to hand over the black box from the Boeing-manufactured aircraft. Zarif called the downing of the Ukrainian passenger plane a tragedy and noted that most of the 176 passengers killed had Iranian passports and relatives in Iran.
Under international aviation rules, Iran had the right to lead the investigation into the downing of the airliner, Zarif said.
"We have asked for help, why hasn't the United States helped us? This is a humanitarian issue. Why haven't they given us the software? Why haven't they given us the expertise?" Zarif said.
"There are still a lot of unknowns. That's why we want more than anybody else to know what is in the black box, to know what actually happened."
For the moment, "it's just sitting there," Zarif said of the black box.