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Khamenei urges Europe to do more to back nuclear deal

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
TEHRAN/BEIRUT: Iran’s supreme leader on Wednesday urged Europe to do more to back the 2015 nuclear deal after President Donald Trump refused to re-certify the pact.
European companies have rushed into the Iranian markets since the landmark accord, which lifted international sanctions in exchange for restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program.
“The European governments have underlined the nuclear deal’s issue and condemned the US president’s remarks,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said, according to comments posted on his official website. “We welcome this approach but it is not enough that they only tell him not to tear up the deal.”
“The nuclear deal is to their benefit,” Khamenei said.
Khamenei also said of Trump: “I will not spend time responding to the nonsensical comments by the foul-mouthed president.” He also referred to Trump and his administration as being “mentally retarded.”
He warned if the US scuttles the deal, “we will shred it into pieces.”
Khamenei’s comments show the supreme leader’s hope that he can leverage European business interests into protecting the nuclear deal. He wants to ensure that Iran continues to have access to the international market for its crude oil as part of efforts to revive its stagnant economy.
Since the nuclear accord, European aviation consortium Airbus has signed billions of dollars in sales agreements with Iran. France’s Total SA and state-run China National Petroleum Corporation signed a $5 billion agreement with Iran to develop the country’s massive offshore natural gas field. And French automobile manufacturer Groupe Renault signed a $778 million deal.
Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the EU — the other parties to the nuclear accord — all have been telling Trump’s administration to stay in the deal.
Trump’s refusal last week to re-certify the agreement has sparked a new war of words between Iran and the US, fueling growing mistrust and a sense of nationalism among Iranians. Trump also criticized Europeans for their participation in Iran’s energy projects.
Meanwhile, Iran’s military chief, who is visiting Damascus, said that it was unacceptable for Israel to violate Syrian airspace and land “any time it wants,” Iranian state media reported.
Gen. Mohammad Baqeri also said he was in the Syrian capital to strengthen cooperation with the Syrian army to “confront our common enemies, the Zionists and terrorists.”
Since at least 2012, Iran has provided critical military support to Syrian President Bashar Assad, helping his army regain swathes of the country from rebels and militants.
The Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah has played a major role in support of Assad.
Israel says it has hit arms convoys of the Syrian military and Hezbollah nearly 100 times in the past five years.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Iran is strengthening its foothold in Syria, and Israel was watching developments and would act against any threat.

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