Europeans need to do more than talk if they want to preserve a deal meant to keep Tehran from obtaining a nuclear weapon after the unilateral withdrawal of the United States, Iran’s foreign minister said Sunday, slamming Washington as the “biggest source of destabilization” in the Middle East.
Mohammad Javad Zarif told a gathering of world leaders, top defence officials and diplomats that a barter-type system known as INSTEX, which was set up last month by France, Germany and Britain to allow businesses to skirt direct financial transactions with Iran and thereby evade possible US sanctions, is not enough.
“Many around the world, particularly on this continent, speak eloquently about multilateralism, but they also need to walk the walk,” Zarif told the Munich Security Conference in an impassioned address.
“INSTEX falls short of the commitments by (European countries) to save the nuclear deal. Europe needs to be willing to get wet if it wants to swim against a dangerous tide of US unilateralism.”
The three European nations, as well as Russia, China and the European Union as a whole, have been struggling to save the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran since President Donald Trump announced a unilateral American withdrawal from it last year and re-imposed sanctions on Iran.
Zarif’s comments appeared directed at European assurances that INSTEX could concentrate on products not currently subject to US sanctions, such as medicine, medical supplies and agricultural goods, rather than on broader trade.
On Saturday, US Vice President Mike Pence slammed INSTEX and urged others to abandon the nuclear deal entirely.
“The time has come for our European partners to stop undermining US sanctions against this murderous revolutionary regime,” Pence said before leaving Germany. Zarif told the conference that Pence had “arrogantly demanded that Europe must join the United States in undermining its own security and breaking its obligations” and urged them to push back against American pressure.
“If the United States were to come, in the course of their fight with China, and tell Europe to stop dealing with China, what would you do?” he asked.