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Iran Foreign Minister says Europe incapable of bypassing US sanctions

Iran's Foreign Minister Javid Zarif said European powers were incapable of bypassing US sanctions [Anadolu/Getty]

Date of publication: 4 April, 2019

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Foreign Minsiter Zarif said Iran would have to look to Russia and China as European powers were incapable of bypassing sanctions imposed by the United States.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said on Wednesday European powers were incapable of bypassing sanctions imposed on Tehran by the United States after it withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal.

"The Europeans at first viewed the JCPOA (nuclear deal) as an achievement, but maybe they were not prepared to, and certainly they were not capable of standing up against US sanctions," Zarif said in an interview with Khamenei.ir, the official website of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khomenei.

"We will continue pressing the Europeans to implement their commitments. Europe must know that they cannot shy away from their responsibilities with a few statements and some unaccomplished plans," he added.

Iran and six world powers agreed on a landmark deal, known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in 2015 that severely restricted Tehran's nuclear activities in return for sanctions relief and economic incentives.

However President Donald Trump withdrew Washington from the deal - technically called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) - last May, reimposing crippling sanctions on the Islamic republic.

The other parties to the nuclear deal - Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia along with the European Union - however insist they remain committed to making the deal work.

Zarif, who was his country's chief negotiator in the negotiations leading to the deal, said that Iran would continue to pressure the Europeans to act on their obligations within the deal but added that "we never had any hopes" in them.

Instead of the western powers the Islamic republic has turned to its traditional partners such as Russia and China, Zarif said, adding "the future of our foreign policy lies in that way".

Key to European Union efforts to preserve the deal struck in 2015 is INSTEX - a means of allowing Iran to trade with EU companies despite Washington sanctions.

Iran has pledged not to resume its nuclear programme following the collapse of a landmark 2015 deal with the US. The UN's atomic watchdog says Iran continues to comply with the agreement.

Zarif accused the US of impeding aid efforts and "economic terrorism" on Monday, as authorities ordered the immediate evacuation of flood-stricken cities in western Iran.

US sanctions are "impeding aid efforts by #IranianRedcrescent to all communities devastated by unprecedented floods", Zarif tweeted, referring to search and rescue operations being conducted after extreme rainfalls triggered vast flooding.

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