Military chief: Iran awaits no permit to strengthen defense power
France warns US stance on Iran endangers Middle East
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s comments about Iran “untrue,” based on “old illusions,” and said Washington had become a hostage to pressure groups.
On Monday Pompeo threatened Iran with “the strongest sanctions in history” if it did not curb its regional influence, as he unveiled a 12-point list of demands from Iran.
Pompeo’s remarks came two weeks after US President Donald Trump pulled out of an international nuclear deal with Iran that had lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbs to its nuclear program.
Zarif said Pompeo had repeated old allegations against Tehran “only with a stronger and more indecent tone.”
“Pompeo’s remarks were so groundless and bereft of civility and logic that they do not warrant an answer,” Zarif said in a live interview on national television.
“Pompeo and other US officials in the current administration are prisoners of their wrong illusions, prisoners of their past, and have been taken hostage by corrupt pressure groups.”
“This indicates the bankrupt nature of US foreign policy, which has been put up for rent. Any pressure group that spends more money can lead the foreign policy in the direction of its own choice,” Zarif said.
The top diplomat further said the US has failed to turn the tide of global opinion against Iran and in favor of itself by spreading lies about the Islamic Republic.
“They even use an erroneous term when referring to the Persian Gulf, or prevent the Iranian people from visiting their families in the US, denying them visas,” he noted.
Now that the US has left the nuclear accord, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), they can no longer use their stonewalling tactics in the accord’s Joint Commission, Zarif said.
The Iranian foreign minister asserted that the country sought nothing beyond what it has been allowed under the deal.
The other signatories are to present Iran with “a new package,” he announced, but said its contents are within the boundaries of the agreement and do not include “any other issues.”
Iranian anti-terror missions abroad
Addressing Iran’s military advisory role in Iraq and Syria, Zarif reiterated that Tehran’s presence in those countries is at the request of the governments in Baghdad and Damascus and is solely aimed at countering terrorism.
The presence, he said, would continue as long as those governments would need such help, adding that Iran is the only country in the world that has stepped in to fight terrorism at the host country’s request and has suffered human losses.
Zarif said the advisory support is in the interest of the entire world.
“These terror groups, with which we fought, had disturbed international security. We will keep the support up as long as it is necessary and the regional governments ask us to stay,” he added.
Iran’s Armed Forces ‘prepared’
Speaking in Parliament, Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Baqeri said Iran would not bow to US pressure to limit its military activities.
“This enemy [the United States] does not have the courage of military confrontation and face-to-face war with Iran, but it’s trying to put economic and mental pressure on the Iranian nation,” the top general said.
He warned that the armed forces stand fully ready to defend the country in the face of threats, and that they do not wait for permission from any foreign power to promote their defense capabilities.
“Today, the armed forces are at the height of their defensive power as well as military and combat preparedness, compared to any other time, and they do not await any permission or [approving] smile from any foreign power to strengthen their defense power.”
The Iranian commander denounced the US for breaking its promises and laying out a list of do’s and don’ts for the Islamic Republic.
He called US leaders “disloyal, cruel, criminal, isolated, angry, corrupt, and on the Zionist regime’s payroll.”
Region at risk
In Paris, France’s foreign minister said the US decision to scrap the Iran nuclear deal and implement a tough strategy on the country would endanger the region.
“We disagree with the method because this collection of sanctions which will be set up against Iran will not foster dialogue ... This posture is likely to put the region in further danger than it is today,” Jean-Yves Le Drian told France Inter radio.
He said Paris would continue to implement the agreement.
Deputy foreign ministers of the remaining parties to the accord – Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia – will meet their Iranian counterpart on Friday in Vienna.
The meeting will assess what can be done to keep the deal and circumvent extraterritorial American sanctions that are impacting foreign business appetite for Iran.
European companies say they are worried about getting caught up in the new US sanctions, given the extent of Washington’s global reach.
“We have another problem, which is the security of our companies and the capacity to give Iran the economic benefits that it can expect,” Le Drian said.
Press TV and Reuters contributed to this story.