European countries share US concerns over Iran’s regional activities

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Europeans were not ‘in a position to criticize Iran for issues outside the JCPOA.’ (AFP)
Updated 10 June 2019

European countries share US concerns over Iran’s regional activities

  • Iran's foreign minister says Europeans not in a position to criticize
  • European signatories say nuclear accord can be the basis for future talks

LONDON: Iran said on Sunday Europe was in no position to criticize Tehran for its military capabilities and it called on European leaders to normalize trade ties with the Islamic republic despite US sanctions, or face consequences. President Donald Trump last year withdrew the US from world powers’ 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and reimposed sweeping sanctions.
Trump condemned the accord, signed by his predecessor Barack Obama, as flawed for not being permanent and for not covering Iran’s ballistic missile program 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 US 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.

Nuclear deal
“Europeans are not in a position to criticize Iran for issues outside the JCPOA,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was quoted as saying by the state broadcaster, using the acronym for the nuclear deal.
“The Europeans and other signatories of the JCPOA should normalize 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.

FASTFACT

President Donald Trump last year withdrew the US from world powers’ 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and reimposed sweeping sanctions.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas will visit Iran this week to explore options for preserving the fraying nuclear non-proliferation pact.
Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani on Sunday criticized French President Emmanuel Macron for saying last week in a meeting with the US president that they shared the same objectives on Iran.

Containing 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 program.
Tehran unveiled on Sunday a new “domestically produced” air defense system with the capability to trace six targets — including fighter 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,” Defense Minister Amir Hatami said at an unveiling ceremony for the system.


Erdogan hit by more arms bans as pressure grows over Syria invasion

Updated 16 October 2019

Erdogan hit by more arms bans as pressure grows over Syria invasion

  • United States threatens more sanctions
  • Britain, Spain and Sweden joined Germany and France in suspending military exports

ANKARA: Three more countries halted arms sales to Turkey on Tuesday as pressure mounted on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over the Turkish invasion of northeast Syria.

Britain, Spain and Sweden joined Germany and France in suspending military exports, and the US threatened Ankara with more sanctions unless Erdogan halts the offensive.

“We will keep our defense exports to Turkey under very careful and continual review,” British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said. “No further export licenses to Turkey for items which might be used in military operations in Syria will be granted while we conduct that review.”

Spain, a major arms exporter to Turkey, urged Erdogan to “put an end to this military operation” because it endangered regional stability, increased the number of refugees and threatened Syria’s territorial integrity.

“In coordination with its EU partners, Spain will deny new export licenses for military equipment that can be used in the operation in Syria,” the Foreign Ministry said.

Sweden also halted exports of military combat equipment. “Two permits that have been active have now been recalled,” it said.

BACKGROUND

Vice President Mike Pence will hold talks with Erdogan in Ankara on Wednesday, and the UN Security Council will discuss the invasion.

Erdogan’s assault against Kurdish forces, launched last week, has prompted a chorus of international condemnation. “Many NATO allies are very critical and are condemning the military operation in northern Syria,” said Jens Stoltenberg, secretary general of NATO, the Western military alliance of which Turkey is a member.

Russia’s presidential envoy for Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, said Turkey had no right to deploy its forces in Syria permanently, and Moscow had not approved the operation.

US President Donald Trump imposed new sanctions on Turkey on Monday, and on Tuesday the US said more sanctions would follow unless the invasion was halted.

“The plan is to continue the pressure on Turkey as we evaluate our chances to return the relationship to normal, a major element of that return to normal would be a cease-fire,” a senior administration official said. “And by cease-fire what I mean is forces on the ground stop moving on the ground.”

Vice President Mike Pence will hold talks with Erdogan in Ankara on Wednesday, and the UN Security Council will discuss the invasion.