Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Wednesday accused European powers of being incapable of bypassing sanctions imposed on Tehran by the US after it withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, AFP reported.
US President Donald Trump withdrew last May from the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, and later imposed two rounds of sanctions on Iran, the latest of which went into effect in November of 2018.
The European signatories to the 2015 deal did not agree with Trump’s decision to leave the agreement and vowed to help Iran evade the economic sanctions imposed by the US, shielding companies doing business with the rogue state in an effort to preserve the Iran nuclear deal.
In late January, the European Union launched a trade mechanism that would bypass US sanctions on Iran, known as Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX), in in hopes of saving the 2015 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 was quoted as having said in an interview with Khamenei.ir, the official website of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
"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.
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.
Khamenei himself recently rejected the European trade mechanism, saying it “resembles a joke, a bitter joke”.
"We should completely forego (any hope) of help or cooperation from Westerners in strengthening our economy, we shouldn't wait for them," he said, adding, "Once again the Europeans have stabbed us in the back, they have betrayed us."