EghtesadOnline: The Foreign Ministry on Tuesday welcomed the positive steps taken by the European Union toward constructive engagement with Iran but dismissed criticism of its missile activities, regional policies and human rights record.
Iran’s response came a day after the bloc issued a statement, in which it expressed concern about the country’s ballistic missile tests and its alleged role in Middle East tensions while reiterating support for the development of EU-Iran relations and the 2015 nuclear deal.
European powers have promised to abide by the accord under which Iran agreed to limit its atomic work in exchange for sanctions relief, even after US President Donald Trump abandoned it last year and reimposed economic sanctions on the major OPEC producer.
As part of EU efforts to sustain the nuclear pact, Britain, France and Germany last week launched the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges, or INSTEX, a system to facilitate non-dollar trade with Iran and avoid US sanctions, Financial Tribune reported.
However, the EU has stepped up criticism of Iran’s ballistic missile program and its regional policies in a dual-track approach that analysts say is designed to show Washington it is possible to contain Tehran while complying with the nuclear pact.
The bloc also said in its statement that it is “seriously concerned” about the human rights situation in Iran.
The Foreign Ministry welcomed the launch of the new financial channel but said it should become broader in scope to help secure the country’s economic interests under the nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, ISNA reported.
“The economic aspects and benefits of JCPOA are very important for us, and the manner in which European signatories carry out their commitments will play a crucial role in determining the future of our relations,” the ministry added.
It also criticized Europe’s decision to condition the development of INSTEX on the adoption of standards set by the Financial Action Task Force, an inter-governmental organization that underpins the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.
“It is unacceptable to link the implementation of this mechanism, [the need for] which is stipulated in JCPOA, to the requirements set out by institutions such as FATF,” it said.
The ministry’s statement also said Iran will never negotiate over its missile program, which it said is solely “defensive and deterrent” in nature.
“Raising such concerns in the current regional situation and at a time when the Islamic Republic of Iran is facing overt threats against its national security is neither constructive nor helpful, and will not benefit regional security or Europe’s interests.”
It called on the Europeans to look “realistically” at the ground reality in the Middle East rather than being influenced by ill-wishers who do not want to see regional nations live in peace.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran always supports dialogue, cooperation and political solutions aimed at resolving regional crises,” it said in response to EU’s demand that Tehran back efforts to help ameliorate the situation in war-ravaged Yemen and Syria.
The ministry denounced the use of human rights as a political tool to exert pressure on other countries and said Iran has taken great steps in cooperation with international organizations to improve its rights record over the past several decades.
It also rejected claims of Iranian assassination plots on European soil, saying, “Raising such baseless and hollow accusations while internationally known terrorist and criminal groups are operating freely in Europe is not constructive and is in line with the goals of enemies who seek to undermine Iran’s relations with Europe.”
France, Denmark and Netherlands have accused Iran of attacks against Iranian dissident figures and arrested suspects allegedly having links with Iranian embassies and the Intelligence Ministry.
The Foreign Ministry noted that Iran is keen to work toward “constructive” cooperation with the EU based on “mutual respect and interests”.
“There is great potential for collaboration between the two sides and we hope that Europe’s complete implementation of its commitments will result in stronger bilateral relations in the shortest possible time,” it concluded.