Iran Diplomat Goes Silent
"I do not do interviews anymore" was the cryptic response from Iran's veteran U.N. Ambassador Javad Zarif. Zarif, a U.S. educated diplomat, was responding to reporters' requests for an elaboration on the latest developments related to Iran's atomic "research" program, as well as White House allegations about Tehran's increasing influence inside neighboring Iraq. The Iranian's response on the interview request was even more curious, since he has generally been accessible to the media. Zarif, Iran's most experienced diplomat in dealing with the United States, had been the "unofficial" point man in indirect contacts with the Bush administration as well as with several congressmen and senators on Capitol Hill. To many inside the United States, Zarif has been the face of Tehran. A moderate by Iranian standards, he has often privately admitted to being "confused" by the policies of current president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. "Many in the government just really don't know him," he often confessed. Zarif also admitted that he saw his long government service likely coming to an end sometime in 2007.
Ambassador Javad Zarif"I have been in New York for more than 5 years. I am overdue to be rotated. If it happens, I can always go home and teach at a university," he sheepishly explained. Once a point man at the center of Iranian foreign policy, Zarif has been relegated to explaining the policies of others since the government under Ahmadinejad took office. During his tenure, several unusual incidents occurred at Iran's U.N. mission that raised eyesbrows at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Last year, a mysterious fire engulfed the ambassador's 5th Ave residence (one the home of the Shah of Iran) causing Zarif to find shelter in a suburban Westchester County hotel for several months. In 2005, the New York Police Department raised complaints about two Iranian diplomats supposedly photographing several subway stations. Neither incident was ever fully explained. Another sign was Zarif's declining status inside the U.N. diplomatic corps took place just last Wednesday. The Iranian was expected at a New York reception for visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Zarif was inexplicably delayed. By the time he arrived, the foreign minister had left. Embarrassed, Zarif darted in and out of the Russian mission. Just who might replace the Iranian ambassador is another unanswered question. The U.S. mission to the United Nations had no comment.