Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the new US sanctions against Iranian individuals and entities “poison the atmosphere” and “violate the spirit” of the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.
The new sanctions against Iran, announced the day after the US administration recertified the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), “poison the atmosphere” and “violate the spirit” of the nuclear deal, Zarif told CBS News on Tuesday.
Iran and the Group 5+1 (Russia, China, the US, Britain, France and Germany) reached the 159-page nuclear agreement in July 2015 and implemented it in January 2016.
The remarks came after the US state department and also department of treasury announced on Tuesday that they were targeting 18 Iranian individuals, groups and networks.
Zarif added that Iran is considering firing back with reciprocal sanctions and will “probably” add to its own list of banned US corporations.
When asked if he thought the US is trying to get Iran to walk away from the deal, he replied that yes, “that’s their wish.”
“This is a multilateral deal, approved by the Security Council, and it’s not a bilateral deal to be withdrawn from or to be renegotiated,” he said.
Zarif warned that the stakes would be much higher if Iran were to come back to the negotiating table.
Elsewhere in the interview, he said US President Donald Trump is also damaging the relationship between the two countries with his travel ban.
“The Muslim ban was an insult,” Zarif said.
He noted that Iranians living in the US are physicians, engineers and scientists that have benefited the country. “I certainly think it is up to the US government to stop sending all these hostile signals, not to the Iranian government only, but to the entire Iranian nation, both in Iran and abroad.”
Zarif also said that the US is cozying up to actors like the Saudis and the Qataris based on their interest in big defense contracts.
“The yardstick for the United States in ascertaining who is supporting terrorism is whether they’re buying weapons from the United States. Just look at the statements that came out in the last few weeks. People who were not buying weapons became supporters of terrorism. And as soon as they agreed to buy weapons they immediately changed sides. Is that the yardstick that you want to apply? Or whether you have a serious yardstick?” he said.
He added, “The only reason that Daesh is not sitting in Damascus as the head of a state is the fact that Iran was there to help Syria. The only reason that Daesh is not sitting in Erbil or in Baghdad is because of the fact that Iran was there to help. So you can frame the issue in whatever way you like, but the reality is that Iran has had the consistent policy of helping regional governments fight extremism”.
The Iranian minister concluded that the US is looking at the “wrong address”.