After serving as Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations, Zarif assumed office as Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs. In addition, he headed the United Nations' Disarmament Committee and taught at the University of Tehran.
He was educated in the United States: he received his bachelor's and master's degrees in International Relations from San Francisco State University and his doctorate in International Law and Policy from the University of Denver's Graduate School of International Studies.
As Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs, he was involved in a series of nuclear weapons-themed talks with United States Secretary of State John Kerry.
He and his wife met and married in Iran, but raised their son and daughter partially in the United States.
He served as Minister of Foreign Affairs under the presidency of Hassan Rouhani.