By Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL
U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (left) and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and U.S. Senator Tom Cotton have had a forthright exchange of views on Twitter in a new war of words between the two men over nuclear negotiations and a potential nuclear deal.
The exchange of tweets started with Cotton taking a personal swipe at Zarif, accusing him of being a coward. The Iranian foreign minister's response was diplomatic in tone and he also congratulated the American politican on the recent birth of his son.
The renewed fight broke on April 29, a few hours after Zarif mentioned Cotton in remarks in New York and suggested that the U.S. Congress is likely to have little sway in a nuclear deal and that the United Nations would ease sanctions "whether Senator Cotton likes it or not."
The Republican Senator who's been very vocal in his opposition to a nuclear agreement with Iran, fired back on Twitter.
Hey @JZarif, I hear you called me out today. If you're so confident, let's debate the Constitution. 1/4— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) April 29, 2015
Cotton accused Zarif of cowardice during the Iran/Iraq war that left tens of thousands dead, including Iranian child soldiers.
I understand if you decline @JZarif after all, in your 20s, you hid in US during Iran-Iraq war while peasants & kids were marched to die 3/4— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) April 29, 2015
Not badge of courage @JZarif, to hide in US while your country fought war to survive-but shows cowardly character still on display today 4/4— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) April 29, 2015
"Serious diplomacy, not macho personal smear, is what we need," responded Zarif on Twitter.
Serious diplomacy, not macho personal smear, is what we need. Congrats on Ur new born. May U and Ur family enjoy him in peace .@SenTomCotton— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) April 30, 2015
The row between Zarif and Cotton was originally sparked in March when Cotton and 46 of his colleagues sent a letter to Iranian leaders schooling them on the U.S. constitutional system while warning that Congress would weigh in on any potential deal and lifting of sanctions.
Speaking on April 29 at the New American foundation in New York, Zarif said that Tehran does not want "to get bogged down into the domestic procedures in the United States."
"I've studied and lived in the U.S.," Zarif said. "I know enough about the U.S. Constitution and U.S. procedures, but as a foreign government, I only deal with U.S. government. I do not deal with U.S. Congress."
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