The Independent: Israel ‘looking for war’ as US seeks to overthrow our government, says Iranian foreign minister
Mohammad Javad Zarif has warned it would be ‘suicidal’ for the US and Israel to start a war with Iran
Israel ‘looking for war’ as US seeks to overthrow our government, says Iranian foreign minister
Government minister urges international community to do more to prevent violence
By Kim Sengupta
Iran cannot “leave itself defenceless” by halting missile production, because of the ever-increasing risk of war in the region, the country’s foreign minister has said.
Israel is looking for conflict and the US is actively seeking regime change in Tehran, claimed Mohammad Javad Zarif, who urged the international community to do much more to prevent an outbreak of disastrous violence.
“Certainly some people are looking for war … like Israel. The risk of war is great and that risk will be even greater if people continue to turn a blind eye to severe violations of international law,” said Mr Zarif at the Munich Security Conference.
The foreign minister accused the US of having a “pathological obsession” with Iran ever since the Islamic revolution four decades ago and “that animus is now reaching new extremes”. Senior members of Donald Trump’s administration, he maintained, were seeking to overthrow the Iranian government.
Mr Zarif wanted to point out that national security adviser John Bolton had told an Iranian exile group, the Mujahedin Khalq (MEK) – once designated as a terrorists in the US and Europe – that the Trump administration should fully back their goal of immediate regime change and recognise the group as a viable alternative.
“John Bolton is now angry because he said he would celebrate with MEK in Tehran in 2019 and that is not going to happen,” said the foreign minister.
Iran needed to manufacture defence equipment because it does not get supplies from elsewhere, said Mr Zarif, while the US was selling billions of dollars of arms to Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Gulf states.
“Mr Trump talks about them as ‘beautiful weapons’, now these beautiful weapons are falling, as we know, on the people of Yemen. The only time we ourselves have used our missiles have been against Isis,” he said.
Huge instability is being caused meanwhile, said the minister, by the Trump administration pulling out of the nuclear agreement between Iran and international powers.
Mr Zarif added that Europe must resist Washington’s pressure to also jettison the deal.
Other signatories to the nuclear deal (Germany, Britain, France, Russia and China), as well as the UN Atomic Energy Authority, stress the deal was working in preventing Iran developing a nuclear arsenal and Tehran was abiding by its obligations.
On Saturday, speaking in Munich, US vice president Mike Pence attacked western allies for not supporting the US on the agreement. “The time has come for our European partners to withdraw from the disastrous Iran nuclear deal and join with us as we bring the economic and diplomatic pressure. The time has come for our European partners to stop undermining US sanctions against this murderous revolutionary regime,” he said.
Mr Zarif charged Mr Pence of “arrogantly demanding that Europe must join the United States in undermining its own security and breaking its obligations.”
European countries have organised a payment mechanism under which businesses and banks would, in theory, be able to trade with Iran without incurring American sanctions. The European states must do more, however, to protect the agreement, Mr Zarif held.
The payment mechanism, he said, “falls short of commitments by the E3 (France, Germany, Britain) to save the nuclear deal. Europe needs to be willing to get wet if it wants to swim against the dangerous tide of US unilateralism.”