Iran minister accuses US, Israel of war-mongering

Mr Mohammad Javad Zarif urged France, Germany and Britain to do more to save the nuclear accord.
Mr Mohammad Javad Zarif urged France, Germany and Britain to do more to save the nuclear accord.

Foreign Minister Zarif criticises Europe for not calling out duo for behaviour in Mid-East

MUNICH • Iran's foreign minister yesterday accused Israel of looking for war and warned that its actions and those of the United States were increasing the chances of a clash in the Middle East.

Addressing the Munich Security Conference, Mr Mohammad Javad Zarif also criticised the US administration after Vice-President Mike Pence last week called on European powers to pull out of the nuclear deal with Iran.

Mr Zarif urged France, Germany and Britain to do more to save that accord.

"Certainly, some people are looking for war... Israel," Mr Zarif said. "The risk (of war) is great. The risk will be even greater if you continue to turn a blind eye to severe violations of international law."

Accusing Israel of violating international law after bombing campaigns in Syria, Mr Zarif criticised European powers for not calling out Israel and the US for their behaviour in the region.

"Israeli behaviour is putting international law on the shelf, US behaviour is putting international law on the shelf," he said.

Speaking to his Cabinet yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Iranian belligerence was the main destabilising factor in the entire Middle East.

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the US had an 'unhealthy' and 'pathological obsession' with Iran and accused US Vice-President Mike Pence of trying to bully his allies.

"We must deny Iran nuclear weaponry and block its military entrenchment in Syria. We will continue taking constant action to ensure Israel's security," he said in remarks broadcast on Israeli media.

Vice-President Pence on Friday accused Iran of Nazi-like anti-Semitism, maintaining his harsh rhetoric against Teheran just a day after he attacked European powers for trying to undermine US sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

Mr Zarif said the US had an "unhealthy" and "pathological obsession" with Iran and accused Mr Pence of trying to bully his allies.

"All in the name of containing Iran, the US claims, and some blindly parrot, that it is Iran that is interfering in the region, but has it been asked whose region?"

 
 
 

He added: "Look at the map, the US military has travelled 10,000km to dot all our borders with its bases. There is a joke that it is Iran that put itself in the middle of US bases."

Mr Zarif, who said Iran was committed to the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers for now, also accused France, Britain and Germany of not doing enough to ensure Teheran received the economic benefits of that accord.

These three countries this month set up the Instrument In Support Of Trade Exchanges (Instex), a new channel for non-greenback trade with Iran to avoid American sanctions. However, diplomats say it is unlikely to allow the big transactions that Teheran says it needs to keep a nuclear deal afloat after last year's decision by US President Donald Trump to abandon the nuclear accord.

"Instex falls short of commitments by the E3 (France, Germany, Britain) to save the nuclear deal," Mr Zarif said. "Europe needs to be willing to get wet if it wants to swim against the dangerous tide of US unilateralism."

Mr Zarif also said Iran is investigating reports of a US programme to sabotage its missiles and rockets.

The New York Times reported last Wednesday that the Trump administration has accelerated a secret initiative to slip faulty parts and materials into the supply chain of the Iranian aerospace industry. The newspaper said two Iranian attempts to launch satellites have failed in the past month, part of a pattern going back more than a decade.

Separately, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani yesterday inaugurated a new domestically built submarine armed with cruise missiles, Press TV reported.

"It weighs 600 tonnes and enjoys state-of-the-art weaponry, including torpedoes, naval mines and cruise missiles that could be launched from a submerged position," it said.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 18, 2019, with the headline 'Iran minister accuses US, Israel of war-mongering'. Print Edition | Subscribe