US resorting to ‘extortion,’ not Iran, Zarif tells Pompeo
Story Code : 815166
In a Saturday tweet, Zarif asked US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo whether he knew the exact meaning of extortion.
“Is it violating a UN resolution & punishing anyone observing it?” Zarif said in his tweet, referring to the US breach of UN Security Council Resolution 2231 endorsing the 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which US President Donald Trump left last year.
Zarif was commenting on Pompeo’s call on European nations to stop Iran's "extortion" after Tehran further reduced its commitments under the JCPOA in response to US sanctions.
On Friday, Pompeo called on the three European signatories to the JCPOA -- Britain, France and Germany -- to take "decisive actions" to end what he referred to as “Iran's nuclear extortion."
In his Twitter account, Pompeo claimed that Iran's access to "massive uranium enrichment capacity reveals a core weakness of the Iran deal."
In response to the US’s withdrawal from the JCPOA and its re-imposition of sanctions, Tehran has taken countermeasures, scaling back its commitments under the deal.
As a third step in reduction of commitments, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) said on Saturday that the country has started up advanced centrifuges to boost its stockpile of enriched uranium, warning signatories to the JCPOA that the clock is ticking for them to salvage the landmark agreement in the face of pressure by the United States.
The AEOI said it has activated 20 IR-4 and 20 IR-6 centrifuges for research and development purposes.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday that the country will expand its nuclear research and development as of September 6, setting aside the restrictions imposed on the country's research and development (R&D) in the JCPOA.
The third step comes after the Europeans failed to meet a 60-day deadline to meet Iran’s demands and fulfill their commitments under the multilateral deal. Iran had already rowed back on its nuclear commitments twice in compliance with articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA.
Iran says its retaliatory measures will be reversible as soon as Europe finds practical ways to shield the mutual trade from the US sanctions, which were re-imposed last year when President Trump withdrew from the JCPOA.
In his Saturday tweet, Zarif also asked if extortion means "offering bribes for theft of oil & designating those who refuse?"
He was referring to a Wednesday report by The Financial Times revealing that Washington had sought to blackmail the captain of the Iranian-operated supertanker Adrian Darya 1, formerly known as Grace 1, to receive bribe for the vessel or face sanctions.
According to several emails seen by The Financial Times, Brian Hook, the US special representative for Iran at the Department of State, wrote to the Indian captain of the tanker, Akhilesh Kumar, on August 26 that the Trump administration was offering him several million dollars to pilot the ship to a country that would impound the vessel on behalf of the US.
The vessel and its cargo had been unlawfully seized by Britain’s naval forces on July 4 in the Strait of Gibraltar on the pretext that it had been suspected of carrying crude to Syria in violation of the European Union’s unilateral sanctions against the Arab country, a claim rejected by Tehran..
In reaction to the report, the Iranian foreign minister on Wednesday slammed the US for its policy of enticing and threatening, saying, “Having failed at piracy, the US resorts to outright blackmail—deliver us Iran’s oil and receive several million dollars or be sanctioned yourself.”
In his Saturday tweet, the top Iranian diplomat also expressed doubt that extortion may amount to "demanding Iran’s submission or its people starve? Or, Is it lawful remedial measures under JCPOA?” referring to an earlier claim by Pompeo that Iranian officials must listen to Washington "if they want their people to eat."
Zarif, in another Twitter post later in the day, went on to ask Pompeo if he knew the meaning of "civilized."
"Is it sending drones over weddings to kill innocents? Piracy on the high seas? Maybe it’s pouring lethal weapons into a region to enable inhuman wars?
"Or, is it a millennia-old nation that hasn’t attacked anyone for centuries?"