The remarks have, of course, been dismissed by US military officials as propaganda. Those officials speculate that Fadavi may have in fact led Iranian military exercises that sank mock-up vessels, but they emphasize that those mock-ups are poorly constructed and do not move as they are being fired upon.
Nevertheless, the comments show that high level officials are either willing to break diplomatic relations with the West, or anticipate that those relations will break down in the near future.
Zarif Passes Majlis Test
After having come under fire for remarks in which he acknowledged that the Holocaust took place, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was subjected to a censure vote on Tuesday by the majlis, or Iranian parliament.
Ultimately, after being questioned by some 75 members of the government body, Zarif avoided censure. His responses to some questions drew applause by turning the tables on accusations against him and portraying acknowledgment of the Holocaust as an act of defiance against Israeli attempts to demonize the Iranian regime.
One way of interpreting Zarif’s success at his hearing is to say that moderate elements of the parliament kept the hardliners in check. Many Western observers, who are committed to maintaining a soft stance towards Iran amidst nuclear negotiations, seem to favor this interpretation.
But another interpretation that is equally likely, or more so, is that Zarif, a member of President Rouhani’s hand-picked cabinet, successfully proved himself to be as anti-Jewish and starkly conservative as his colleagues in the majlis demand him to be.
Zanganeh Assumes Continuation of Sanctions
Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh may be among those officials, judging by remarks that he made at the International Oil, Gas, and Petrochemical Refining Exhibition. Zanganeh claimed that the Iranian oil and gas industry would be capable of surviving and thriving even in the face of a full slate of Western sanctions.
Zanganeh evidently did not explain these remarks in detail, other than to praise Iran’s so-called “resistance economy.” But his claims may explain the motives behind extensive meetings with other Asian nations regarding possible bartering exchanges of gas and other goods. Such transactions would be far less likely to be affected by Western sanctions.
No Christie’s Sales
The Iranian regime has actually been in the habit of claiming that no aspect of the economy has been seriously affected by Western sanctions. As an example of that propaganda, Culture Minister Ali Janati indicated on Monday that Iran was in talks with Christie’s auction house to hold art sales in Iran, to showcase a bustling art scene to the nation’s nouveau riche.
This was confirmed as propaganda a day later when a Christie’s spokesperson said that there had been no such talks and that in fact, Iran had never even approached Christie’s about this possibility. The Culture Ministry evidently did not believe that this kind of sale was a realistic possibility, but it made a public effort to convince the public otherwise.
In the New York Post on Monday, former US ambassador John Bolton urged US policymakers to focus on regime change in Iran instead of getting further involved in the Syrian Civil War. He noted that the real threats to US security come from the “patrons and larger incarnations” of that conflict, and he claimed that Bashar al-Assad is largely a “satellite” and “henchman” of Tehran.