Europe in ‘no position’ to criticise Iran: Zarif - GulfToday

Europe in ‘no position’ to criticise Iran: Zarif

Mohammad-Javad-Zarif

Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during a news conference in Baghdad. Reuters/ File

European countries are in “no position” to criticise Iran for its military capabilities, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Sunday ahead of a visit by his German counterpart Heiko Maas.

Iran called on European leaders to normalise trade ties the Tehran despite US sanctions, or face consequences.

Germany’s top diplomat is due in Tehran on Monday, against a backdrop of Iranian pressure for Europe to uphold commitments made under a 2015 nuclear deal since abandoned by the United States.

“Europeans are certainly in no position to criticise Iran, even about issues that have nothing to do with” the agreement, Zarif said in televised remarks to journalists.

Iran signed the landmark accord with China, Russia, Germany, Britain, France and the United States, leading to sanctions relief in exchange for Tehran curbing its nuclear programme.

But last year, US President Donald Trump walked away from the accord and Washington has since imposed sweeping sanctions on Iran.

European and Western policies “have only caused damage in the region,” Zarif said.

“In general, the West has allowed the autocratic regimes in our region to commit crimes.”

Trump condemned the accord, signed by his predecessor Barack Obama, as flawed for not being permanent and for not covering Iran’s ballistic missile programme or its role in conflicts around the Middle East.

The west European signatories to the deal — France, Britain and Germany — share the same concerns as the United States over Iran’s ballistic missile development and regional activities.

However, they have defended the nuclear accord as the best way to limit Iran’s enrichment of uranium, a potential pathway to nuclear weapons, and a basis for future negotiations on a broader palette of security and other longstanding disputes.

“The Europeans and other signatories of the JCPOA should normalise economic ties with Iran...We will halt our commitments or will take action in accordance with their measures.”

Last month, Iran scaled back some commitments under the 2015 deal and warned that in 60 days it would resume enriching uranium to a higher degree than that permitted by the accord if the Europeans failed to shield it against the US sanctions, which aim to cripple its oil-dependent economy.

Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani on Sunday criticised French President Emmanuel Macron for saying last week in a meeting with Trump that they shared the same objectives on Iran.

Macron said France wanted to make sure Tehran will not get nuclear weapons: “We had an accord until 2025 and we want to go further and have full certainty in the long run... (Then) reduce ballistic activity and contain Iran regionally.”

Larijani was quoted as saying by state media: “The recent remarks by the French president in a meeting with Trump were shameful and inept...Macron’s comments did not match what he has been telling our president...in their meetings and on the phone.”

Iran insists its nuclear activities are entirely peaceful, and has repeatedly refused to discuss its missile programme.

Tehran unveiled on Sunday a new “domestically-produced” air defence system with the capability to trace six targets - including fighetr jets, bombers and drones at the same time and destroy them with missiles.

“Iran will increase its military capabilities to protect its national security and interests, and it will not ask permission from anyone on this matter,” Defence Minister Amir Hatami said at an unveiling ceremony for the system.

Germany’s foreign minister will meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran on Monday, a German diplomatic source said, as part of a concerted European effort to preserve Iran’s nuclear pact with world powers and defuse rising US-Iranian tensions.

“I can confirm that the (German) Foreign Minister will meet President Rouhani on Monday,” said the diplomatic source, giving no further details.

Heiko Maas warned during a weekend stopover in Iraq en route to Tehran about the dangers of any conflict with Iran for the entire Middle East.

“We Europeans are convinced that it is worth trying to keep the Vienna nuclear agreement with Iran,” Maas said, adding he wanted dialogue even when disputes seemed insurmountable.

The German foreign minister will also meet Zarif in Tehran.

Agencies