France: Consider new sanctions on Iran

France urges European Union to consider new sanctions on Iran over its involvement in Syria’s civil war and its ballistic missile program.

Elad Benari,

Jean-Yves Le Drian
Jean-Yves Le Drian
Reuters

France on Monday urged the European Union to consider new sanctions on Iran over its involvement in Syria’s civil war and its ballistic missile program, Reuters reported.

The move comes as Paris tries to persuade Washington to preserve a 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who has blasted the 2015 nuclear deal as “the worst deal ever negotiated”, recently decided to extend a waiver on nuclear sanctions that were imposed on Iran but made clear it would be the last time he will do so and ordered European allies and Congress to work with him to fix “the disastrous flaws” in the 2015 deal or Washington would withdraw.

The deadline for the European signatories to the deal to fix it is May 12.

In response, the three European signatories - France, Britain and Germany - have proposed new EU sanctions targeting Iranians who support Syria’s government in that country’s civil war and Tehran’s ballistic missile program.

Western countries say Iran’s ballistic missile tests are a violation of the UN resolution enshrining the 2015 nuclear deal. Iran denies it is in violation of any UN resolutions and categorically rules out any negotiations on its missile program.

“We are determined to ensure that the Vienna accord is respected,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told reporters on Monday before talks with his EU counterparts, referring to the city where the 2015 deal was signed.

“But we must not exclude (from consideration) Iran’s responsibility in the proliferation of ballistic missiles and in its very questionable role in the Near and Middle East,” he added, according to Reuters. “That must also be discussed to reach a common position.”

Britain, France and Germany raised the sanctions issue with fellow EU foreign ministers on Monday, who discussed what strategy to present to Trump. But with time still to run until May, sanctions did not dominate the debate, diplomats said.

Iran’s foreign ministry criticized Le Drian’s comments, saying there could be no negotiation over what Iran says are purely defensive weapons.

“We were hopeful that after his recent visit to Tehran and negotiations with Iranian officials, he would understand the realities of the Islamic Republic’s defense policies,” Fars news agency quoted Iranian spokesman Bahram Qasemi as saying.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Twitter accused the West of “sheer hypocrisy” in selling large quantities of weapons to countries in the region while “whining about Iran’s defensive missiles”.


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