Iran says the crisis over the nuclear deal raises questions over Europe’s independence from the United States which is “imposing its will” on allies.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said he was “happy” that French President Emmanuel Macron was taking the lead in trying to hold the crumbling agreement together following Washington’s withdrawal.
In an interview with Euronews, Zarif said he held “a very good discussion” with Macron in Paris ahead of the Group of Seven (G7) summit in Biarritz. "We discussed with Macron how the US could come back, and how Europe and the international community can live up to their commitments, independent of the US."
“President Macron has been trying to do his best,” he said. “Our partners in Europe have to make a decision, not about Iran but about how they want to deal with the US — whether they want to have independence or whether the US can impose its will.”
The deal is “not an optional arrangement” but rather it is backed by a UN Security Council resolution, he added.
“If the US were to impose its will on Europe to abide by international law it would be bad but it would be justifiable. Now the US is imposing will on the rest of the world to violate international law. That’s totally unacceptable, and for Europe, whose future is based on multilateralism and the rule of law, this is a threat against the future of Europe.”
He said the nuclear deal was imperfect but was still the “best possible” solution.
“It wasn’t done overnight almost every word of it has gone through difficult negotiation so I know it’s not the best deal,” he said. “It’s not what I wanted, not what the US wanted, not what France wanted … we all have our complaints but that’s what a multilateral agreement is all about, you can’t get everything you want.”
He said Iran’s recent escalations, such as the work on its uranium enrichment programme, were reversible.
“If Europe — alone or with the US — decided to fulfil their part of the obligation then we can easily within hours return to full implementation of the deal,” he said.
While Iran’s economy was hit hard by the reintroduction of US sanctions, it has partially recovered, Zarif said.
“Our economy is stabilising, we have gone through the worst period, our currency has recovered on third of its value, we are back in green territory with our growth,” he said.
“We suffered tremendously last year and the US is responsible for huge damages on Iran — hundreds of billions of dollars which one day they will have to pay.”
At a time of heightened friction between Tehran and Washington, Iran on Thursday displayed what it described as a domestically-built, long-range, surface-to-air missile air defence system.
In a bid to de-escalate tensions, Macron on Wednesday proposed softening sanctions on Iran or providing a compensation mechanism “to enable the Iranian people to live better” in return for full compliance with the pact.
Zarif said on Thursday that Iran was prepared to work on French proposals to salvage the nuclear deal, but added that Tehran would not tolerate US interference in the Gulf.