Araqchi: US Economic War Has Troubled Entire Region
EghtesadOnline: The economic war launched by the United States against the Iranian people has hit the security and stability of the entire Middle East, Iran's deputy foreign minister said.
Abbas Araqchi made the statement on Saturday in a meeting with Marielle de Sarnez, chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the French National Assembly, who was in Tehran at the head of a parliamentary delegation, ISNA reported.
The two sides discussed regional and international issues, as well as the state of Iran's painstakingly negotiated nuclear deal, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
Signed in 2015, JCPOA had settled the international dispute over Iran's nuclear program, but it has become a cause for tensions ever since the US pulled out of the deal last year and reimposed sweeping sanctions on Tehran as part of its so-called "maximum pressure campaign" to push for new negotiations, Financial Tribune reported.
Araqchi said the agreement has been the only effective diplomatic achievement offering a viable solution to the problems ofthe volatile West Asian region.
"By exiting the accord, the US has pushed this [successful] experience on the verge of breakdown, putting diplomacy and multilateralism at risk," he said.
De Sarnez also described JCPOA as a diplomatic progress and success.
"Preservation of the deal is of high importance and we need to do all in our power to keep it alive," she said.
Europe has always expressed support for the deal and promised solutions to shield Iran against the US economic pressure.
France, in particular, has been a pioneer in efforts to facilitate trade with Iran.
Together with Britain and Germany, it set up a financial mechanism known as INSTEX (Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges) to enable non-dollar transactions with Iran.
Nevertheless, the system has not been activated yet while the US pressure continues to intensify.
Left on Paper
Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani complained about Paris' inaction regarding the activation of the payment channel in his meeting with the French lawmaker earlier in the day.
"Despite multiple rounds of talks, promises made by the French president to the Iranian president have not been fulfilled," he said, lamenting that the INSTEX "has remained on paper".
In a phone conversation with Hassan Rouhani in early April, French President Emmanuel Macron pledged to do all in his power to protect Iran’s interests under JCPOA, referring to INSTEX as an indication of Europe’s determination to preserve the deal.
De Sarnez told Larijani that his country is seeking to maintain its relations with Iran in various sectors, including science, culture, medicine and sports.
She also reiterated France's commitment to JCPOA, saying "our efforts are aimed at operationalizing INSTEX".
Larijani, however, noted that economic cooperation between the two countries' firms is not possible while banking ties are severed.
"Total was the first French company that left Iran after [US President Donald] Trump's exit from JCPOA," he regretted.
Total is a French multinational integrated oil and gas company that initiated a multibillion-dollar gas project in Iran in a landmark move shortly after the nuclear deal's implementation, but quit immediately after American sanctions were reimposed last year.