'Diplomatic visits opportunity to find solution'
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Sunday that Europe is in no position to censure Iran for its military capabilities and called on European leaders to normalize trade ties with the Islamic Republic despite US sanctions, or face consequences.
“Europeans are not in a position to criticize Iran for issues that have nothing to do with the JCPOA,” Zarif told reporters in Tehran, using the acronym for the 2015 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,” he said.
US President Donald Trump last year withdrew the United States from the 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 activities in the Middle East.
The West European signatories to the deal – France, Britain and Germany – share the same concerns. However, they have defended the nuclear accord as a basis for future negotiations on a broader palette of security and other issues.
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.
Iran insists its nuclear activities are entirely peaceful, and has repeatedly refused to discuss its missile program.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas will visit Iran on Monday to explore options for preserving the fraying nuclear pact. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is also set to fly to Tehran in an effort to ease tensions between Iran and the US.
Zarif said the trips are an opportunity for Iran to “outline its policies” and “look for a solution to counter policies that have targeted the whole world.”
The trips come amid escalating tension between Iran and the United States. Fears that the war of words could flare into a military clash escalated when Washington dispatched the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier group, an amphibious assault ship, a Patriot missile battery and B-52 bombers to the region.
Stop using dollar
Zarif also said much of America’s undue economic influence will be taken away if countries stop using the US dollar in their international transactions.
“America’s power rests on the dollar; a great part of America’s economic power will go away if countries eliminate the dollar from their economic systems,” he said.
Trump has been attempting to exert economic pressure on Iran ever since he withdrew from the JCPOA. While Iran has been internationally verified to uphold its obligations, it has undergone the US pressures mainly because America has forced its trade partners — who use the US dollar — to stop or cut back on their own trade with Iran.
But the Islamic Republic is not the only country to face such pressure. Russia and China have been subjected either to US sanctions or unfair trade practices.
On Friday, President Vladimir Putin of Russia and President Xi Jinping of China voiced unanimous concern about “inequalities” in the global economic system, a reference to the US dominion. President Putin specifically called for the elimination of the US dollar from international trade.
China, which faces a trade war by the Trump administration, has said that the US practices constitute “economic terrorism” — a term earlier used by Foreign Minister Zarif of Iran to refer to the US sanctions pressure on the Islamic Republic.
In his Sunday remarks, Zarif reiterated that labeling and said the US was trying to pile up pressure on Iran “out of desperation.”
Zarif said that Trump had, by his own admission, declared that the US was launching “an economic war” on Iran. This, he said, amounts to “economic terrorism” on the part of Washington.
“It amounts, by definition, to economic terrorism because the United States is putting pressure in terms of what its president calls warfare on normal ordinary Iranians in order to change the policies of their government,” Zarif said.
Reuters and Press TV contributed to this story.