Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (L) walks in a courtyard at the Beau Rivage Palace Hotel in Lausanne, March 28, 2015.
Brendan Smialowski / Reuters

In November 2013, just before Tehran signed the interim Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) with the P5+1 negotiating partners, the Iranians released a YouTube message. The video went viral, partly due to the content, which was remarkable, but even more so because of the choice of medium. Seated against a backdrop of books and a flag, Iran’s English-speaking foreign minister became the first-ever Iranian leader to directly address the world, through an outlet long banned by the Islamic Republic.

Mohammad Javad Zarif did not begin his address with a lecture about Iran’s “rights,” which, to some, appeared odd. At

This article is part of our premium archives.

To continue reading and get full access to our entire archive, you must subscribe.