Zarif’s planned talks in Brussels to focus on JCPOA, not riots: Qassemi


Tehran has rejected media reports linking an upcoming meeting between Iranian and EU officials to recent riots in Iran, saying the planned talks will focus on the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal.

Speaking at a news conference on Monday, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is due in Brussels later this week for talks with the EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, as well as his British, German and French counterparts.

“This meeting will be held at the invitation of Ms. Mogherini, and is only meant to review the process of implementing the JCPOA,” said Qassemi, using an acronym for the nuclear deal officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

He was reacting to a foreign media fanfare created over Mogherini’s invitation, which claimed the EU was planning the meeting to address the riots in Iran.

“This meeting has been associated with Iran’s internal affairs with vicious intentions,” Qassemi said.

The session would possibly take place at Mogherini’s office on Thursday or Friday or earlier, he added.

Earlier in the day, Zarif, himself, commented on the claims in media reports, saying, “Some media outlets, especially Israeli ones, tried to fabricate news in this regard. Such news fabrication is baseless and unfounded.”

Last week, Iran witnessed peaceful protests against recent price hikes and the overall economic situation of the country. However, limited numbers of violent individuals, some of them armed, sought to turn the peaceful protests into street riots.

Some foreign media outlets, meanwhile, tried to depict the entire situation as an uprising targeting Iran’s Islamic establishment.

Mindful of how the violent individuals sought to hijack the peaceful rallies, however, the original protesters soon heeded calls by authorities to leave the streets, paving the way for law enforcement officials to deal with the vandals and armed elements.

Snub at UNSC for US

On Friday, the UN Security Council gave in to a US push for a meeting on the events inside Iran. The session, though, did not go as planned as three veto wielders and Washington’s own allies used the debate to criticize the White House for wasting the Security Council’s time with an issue that related to Iran’s internal affairs.

Russian ambassador United Nations Vasilly Nebenzia talks with US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley before the start of a UN Security Council meeting concerning the situation in Iran, January 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by AFP)

At the meeting, several UNSC members defended the JCPOA and warned the US against attempts to exploit the recent developments inside Iran to undermine the 2015 nuclear accord.

Qassemi touched on the US failure to bring UNSC members on board against Iran at Friday’s session, describing it as yet another defeat for Washington in its regional and foreign policy.

The developments at the council showed a “new era” has dawned, and that the Security Council, along with the entire international community, does not follow in Washington’s footsteps.

Qassemi further said that Washington’s potential departure from the Iran nuclear deal or any irrational attitude on its part would be met with Tehran’s proportionate and strong reaction, “which will make the US administration regret it.”

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