Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has reportedly violated a direct order from the Islamic Republic’s supreme leader to stop yelling at Secretary of State John Kerry during nuclear talks.
Bloomberg reports that Kerry and Zarif, who are the lead negotiators for their countries at the talks in Vienna, had a shouting match on Monday as an important deadline loomed.
The argument was so intense that a Kerry aide "tip-toed into the room" to remind the men that everyone in the building could hear them shouting.
Zarif has lashed out at Western negotiators on many occasions.
The foreign minister reportedly "erupted" at E.U. negotiator Federica Mogherini when she mentioned Iran’s role in destabilizing the Middle East. Iran has stoked conflict in Syria, Yemen, and other countries by funding Islamist terror groups like Hezbollah.
"Never try to threaten the Iranians," Zarif yelled on another occasion when it was mentioned that the P5+1 could end the nuclear talks because of Iranian intransigence.
"Nor the Russians," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov added. Russia, which is participating in the talks as a member of the P5+1, is a major ally and exporter of military technology, including nuclear technology, to Iran.
According to one Iranian negotiator, Zarif’s violent outbursts are "unprecedented" in the history of U.S. diplomacy. They have been known to cause alarm among Western bodyguards.
Reports of Zarif’s ranting this week indicate he has not taken to heart a reprimand issued to him earlier in the year by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Zarif recounted to Iranian state media a conversation he had with the supreme leader.
"‘Why you are yelling in negotiations? Smile and speak,’" he recalled the supreme leader saying. "‘Do not quarrel on the negotiation table, reason with them,’" Khamenei continued, citing a verse from the Quran that states "Go, both of you, to Pharaoh, for he has indeed transgressed all bounds. … But speak to him mildly; perchance he may take warning or fear [Allah]."
After the shouting match, parties to the nuclear negotiations failed to reach a deal by the July 7 deadline set out in the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA). JPOA sanctions relief for Iran has been extended until July 10 as negotiators scramble to complete a deal.