You see a page from the old site of Iran International that is no longer updated. Visit to view the new site.

Zarif Appears On Clubhouse Social Media To Explain Iran’s Pact With China

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Wednesday [March 31] evening took to the increasingly popular Clubhouse application to field questions from journalists. The virtual "room" sparked wide participation in Persian-language virtual rooms.

Zarif's remarks in defense of the 25-year Strategic Cooperation Pact with China, his views on Iran’s relations with East and West, as well as his clever utilization of the social media application, have all sparked controversy and discussions on social media.

"I neither believe in the 'Looking to East Policy' nor in 'Looking to West," Zarif said, adding that Iran's foreign policy was based on interaction with all the international community. Critics of the agreement with China have portrayed it the result of the theory of ‘Looking to the East’ supposedly held by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Zarif situated the pact in the practical realities of recent times. In his question-answer session, he argued the Chinese government, at a time of United Nations sanctions, had shown no interest in strategic cooperation when proposed by the Rouhani government in 2013, but had changed its approach after the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Iran reached the JCPOA with the five permanent members of the UNSC, clearing the way for lifting sanctions. Zarif reminded his listeners that prior to the JCPOA, China and Russia had voted in favor of UN resolutions against Iran, and that the deal had been as much about improving Iran’s relationship with the ‘East’ as with the ‘West.’

Zarif denied a claim made by former Foreign Minister and Khamenei confidante Kamal Kharrazi that Beijing had insisted on involving a designated representative of Khamenei in the talks over the pact. Zarif said he had suggested Ali Larijani for the role. Back in the early days of the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, elected in 2005, some leading officials, including Larijani as the top security official, appeared to believe China and Russia would not agree to refer Iran to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) over its nuclear program, nor support international sanctions.

Participants at the Zarif session were invited by reformist journalist Farid Modarresi, who has 11,000 followers on Clubhouse, and was attended only by members of the invitation-only platform, including journalists inside Iran and abroad. Critics have said the moderator allowed only "carefully selected journalists" to pose questions.

"None of the journalists from outside Iran (other than NY times own reporter and another journalist in the US…) had a chance to ask any questions," Negin Shiraghaei, a former BBC Persian journalist, tweeted. "All the people on the stage are affiliated with the Iranian government."

Zarif's presence in Modarresi's ‘room’ has been widely been seen as an alternative to Iranian television. Amir Rashidi, an Iranian internet security researcher, in his tweets said Zarif had "conquered the space," as was shown by the many new rooms formed in Clubhouse to discuss the question-answer session: "It doesn't matter that [they] agree with him or oppose him. What matters is that he is the subject of discussions."

A British-Iranian journalist, political analyst and former correspondent of The National and journalist at Iran International
Iran in Brief
City officials in Iran's capital Tehran are planning to put locks on large waste containers in the streets to prevent garbage pickers from accessing waste.More
The Biden Administration has confirmed to the US Congress that sanction imposed by its predecessor on Iran have drastically reduced Iran's trade with the world.More
The UK government said on Sept 20 that Britain would "not rest" until all its dual nationals being held in Iran were returned home.More
President Ebrahim Raisi’s vice president in women’s affairs has refused to support an age limit in child marriage, a controversial issue in Iran.More
In first news about detained Iranian dissident rap singer Toomaj, Iran International has learned that was arrested by the intelligence ministry.More