Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif fires back at his German counterpart over the latter’s call for renegotiation of the 2015 nuclear agreement and claims about Iran’s national defense program, saying the European parties to the Iran deal should first change their own harmful behavior before lecturing the Islamic Republic.
In an interview with Spiegel magazine released on Friday, Germany’s top diplomat, Heiko Maas, toeing the line of America, spoke of what he called a “nuclear deal plus” with Iran that would also cover the country’s conventional missile program and regional role.
Maas said “a return to the previous agreement will not be enough,” and that “there will have to be a kind of ‘nuclear deal plus’, which is also in our interest.”
The German minister — whose country currently holds the presidency of the European Union (EU) — said the Europeans have “clear expectations for Iran: no nuclear weapons, but also no ballistic rocket program which threatens the whole region. Iran must also play another role in the region.”
“We need this accord because we distrust Iran,” he added
In response, Zarif took to Twitter later in the day to remind the European signatories to the Iran deal — Germany, France and Britain — of their own “malign behavior” in the Middle East region and failure to live up to their obligations under the multilateral nuclear deal following the US’s unilateral pullout in May 2018.
Here’s what @HeikoMaas & E3 must do before speaking abt what Iran should do:
Stop despicable #CovidApartheid
Honor your obligations under UNSCR2231 & stop violating JCPOA
End YOUR malign behavior in OUR region: $100B arms sales to Persian Gulf & blind support for Israel terror. pic.twitter.com/3I7E6sUd08— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) December 4, 2020
Before speaking about Iran, Zarif said, the European trio — also referred to as E3 — should stop violations of the Iran deal, named the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which has been ratified by UN Security Council 2231.
Under intense pressure from Washington, the Europeans failed to fulfill their side of the bargain by neutralizing the sanctions that the US re-imposed on Iran in the aftermath of its exit, which was meant to force Iran back to the negotiating table for expanding the deal to include the country’s missile program and regional role.
A year into Washington’s withdrawal and the ensuing European failure to protect its business ties with Iran, Tehran began suspending parts of its commitments under the JCPOA on a step by step basis in retaliation.
The Europeans, however, continued to fail to put their verbal support for the deal into action, ultimately prompting the Iranian Parliament (Majlis) to intervene in the case and vote for a law designed to protect Iran’s interests against the Western sanctions.
The law — named the Strategic Action Plan to Counter Sanctions — will require the administration to suspend even more contractual obligations if the European trio does not provide Iran with the sanctions relief it has been promised under the JCPOA in two months.
Iran has repeatedly clarified to the Western parties to the deal that it will not renegotiate the deal, but it is ready to return to the original agreement if the other sides begin to live up to their commitments to Tehran.
‘Stop blind support for Israeli terror’
Along with the tweet, Zarif posted a report about Germany’s plan to include Israel, and not Palestine, in a European COVID-19 vaccine distribution program, calling on Berlin to stop the “despicable” coronavirus “apartheid.”
The chief Iranian diplomat further urged an end to lucrative European arms sales to the repressive Persian Gulf regimes and offering “blind support” for Israel’s terrorism.
He was apparently referring to the trio’s refusal to condemn outright the suspected Tel Aviv-linked assassination of one of Iran’s most senior nuclear scientists, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, last week.
Iranian government officials and military commanders consider the Israeli regime as the prime suspect behind the assassination operation, which is said to have been carried out with Israeli-made arms.
In the interview with Der Spiegel, Maas tacitly supported the assassination of Fakhrizadeh, even though he responded ‘no’ to a question about whether he considered assassinating an individual a “legitimate instrument.”
“In abstract terms, there may be situations where international law may allow for preventing persons from carrying out a specific action — to prevent imminent crimes such as attacks, for example. But the risk of this making the situation even more dangerous is obvious,” Maas said.