Iran’s foreign minister warned the US yesterday that it “cannot expect to stay safe” after launching what he described as an economic war against Tehran, taking a hard-line stance amid a visit by Germany’s top diplomat seeking to defuse tensions.
Zarif also said Iran will never start a war, but will destroy any party who invades it.
A stern-faced Zarif offered a series of threats over the ongoing tensions gripping the Persian Gulf. The crisis takes root in President Donald Trump’s decision over a year ago to withdraw America from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
“One cannot expect an economic war to continue against the Iranian people and that those waging this war and those supporting it remain safe,” he said at a Tehran news conference with his visiting German counterpart Heiko Maas.
“The only way to decrease tensions in the region is to stop the economic war,” he said, adding that Germany and the EU had an “important role” in such efforts.
For his part, Heiko Maas insisted his country and other European nations want to find a way to salvage the nuclear deal, which saw Iran limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions, reported AP.
Maas also said it was in Iran’s “political and strategic interest” to stay in the nuclear deal.
However, Europe has yet to be able to offer Iran a way to get around the newly imposed US sanctions. A July 7 deadline looms for Europe to find a way to save the unravelling deal. Otherwise, Iran has warned it will resume enriching uranium closer to weapons-grade levels.
Meanwhile, UN’s nuclear watchdog said yesterday it was “worried about increasing tensions” over Iran’s nuclear programme, after Tehran said it might stop respecting more elements of a 2015 international deal.
“I... hope that ways can be found to reduce current tensions through dialogue,” International Atomic Energy Agency director general Yukiya Amano said in a speech opening the agency’s quarterly board of governors meeting.
“As I have constantly emphasised, the nuclear-related commitments entered into by Iran under the JCPOA represent a significant gain for nuclear verification,” Amano said.
“It is essential that Iran fully implements its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA,” he added.