Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has blasted the United States for abusing the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to further undermine the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, an accord that US President Donald Trump quit in May.
In a tweet on Wednesday, Zarif said Trump’s decision to abandon the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and violate the UN resolution that endorses it only led to Washington’s isolation.
Trump chaired his first UNSC session on Wednesday, where he threatened that any individuals or entities that fail to comply with Iran sanctions will “face server consequences” and stressed that the US will ensure Iran will never get a nuclear bomb.
Under the JCPOA, which was originally struck between Iran and six world powers — the US, the UK, France, China, Russia and Germany– Iran agreed to limit certain parts of its nuclear energy program in exchange for removal of all nuclear-related sanctions.
Trump, however, said that the US will pursue tougher Iran sanctions, “tougher than ever before,” and defended re-imposing sanctions on Iran, citing its “malign conduct.”
Shortly after the US president opened the UNSC session, Zarif told reporters it was “incredible” that the very person violating the council’s resolutions was calling on other countries to respect it.
America’s plans to undermine the nuclear deal and put more economic pressure on Iran has put it at odds with the European Union (EU), which has extended financial ties with the Islamic Republic.
Europeans have so far resisted Trump’s pressure to cut business ties with Iran.
Addressing an anti-Iran gathering on the sidelines of annual UN meetings, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he was “disturbed and indeed deeply disappointed” by the EU’s plan to take sides with Iran and avoid sanctions.
“This is one of the most counterproductive measures imaginable for regional and global peace and security,” Pompeo said, after European countries announced Tuesday that they would facilitate payments related to Iran’s exports as part of efforts to salvage the JCPOA.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry reacted to Pompeo’s remarks, with spokesman Bahram Qassemi saying they showed US leaders’ failure in isolating Iran.
“Today it is the US government that finds itself more isolated day after day as a result of its greediness and bullying behavior,” Qassemi told the media on Wednesday, adding the what world leaders said at recent UN General Assembly and UNSC sessions were testaments to that.
Stop nuclear arms race: Zarif
Speaking at a high-level meeting of the UN General Assembly to commemorate and promote the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, Zarif said the ongoing race to develop new nuclear weapons and upgrade the existing ones must stop.
He said the “new round” of the arms race began after Trump unveiled his new nuclear weapons policy.
In June, the Pentagon released a new nuclear arms policy that aims to revamp US nuclear arsenal and develop new low-yield atomic weapons.
The policy, known as the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), came largely to counter Russia and effectively ended previous efforts to reduce the size and scope of the US arsenal and minimize the role of nuclear weapons in defense planning.
The new policy drew a firm response from Moscow, with Russian President Vladimir Putin ordering his military commanders in May to boost the country’s strategic nuclear forces.
Zarif noted that plans by nuclear-armed states to expand their arsenals as well as the US plan to develop small nuclear weapons were another warning signs that a nuclear arms race that has already started.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres said at the meeting that eliminating nuclear weapons was “the only sure way to eliminate the threat” posed by them.