Zarif says US has turned Middle East into ‘powder keg’
fresh sanctions on Russia that began over alleged military involvement in Ukraine, while Turkey also faced penalties this year over the detention of an American pastor. Trump has also canceled hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Pakistan, accusing it of failing to crack down on militancy.
Sanctions affect all
Rouhani drew parallels with the sanctions and other pressure faced by the countries attending the conference.
“When they put pressure on China’s trade, we are all harmed... By punishing Turkey, we are all punished. Any time they threaten Russia, we too consider our security to be endangered,” Rouhani said.
“When they impose sanctions on Iran, they deprive all of us of the benefits of international trade, energy security and sustainable development. And in fact, they impose sanctions on everyone.
“We are here to say that we don’t intend to tolerate such insolence.”
Rouhani warned a “deluge” of drugs, refugees and attacks on Europe – which has strongly objected to the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal – if US sanctions weaken Iran’s ability to contain them.
“I warn those who impose sanctions that if Iran’s ability to fight drugs and terrorism are affected ... you will not be safe from a deluge of drugs, asylum seekers, bombs and terrorism,” Rouhani said, referring to Iran’s efforts to combat smuggling, particularly from Afghanistan.
“Weakening Iran by sanctions, many will not be safe,” he said. “Those who do not believe us, it is good to look at the map.”
The European Union is working on a payment system, known as the “special purpose vehicle”, to keep money flowing into Iran, but has struggled to find a host since many countries fear repercussions from the Trump administration.
Drug trafficking is a serious challenge for Iran as it borders Afghanistan – the world’s largest opium producer – and Pakistan, a major transit country for drugs. Opium is the raw material for heroin and Afghan farmers harvest about 80 percent of the world’s supply, according to UN reports.
In 2012, Iran accounted for two-thirds of the world’s opium seizures and onefourth of the world’s heroin and morphine seizures, a UN report published in 2014 showed.
Iran pays a heavy price to fight drug trafficking, with dozens of border guards killed in fighting drug smugglers every year. Every year, the country burns about 100 tons of seized narcotics as a symbol of its determination.
In 2013 alone, Iran spent more than $26 million to dig canals, erect walls and embankments, create new outposts and set up barbed wire along its 2,000-kilometer (1,240-mile) border with Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to government statistics. Until 2016, Iran annually spent some $2.5 billion to fight drug trafficking, officials say.
The president said Iran has been the biggest victim of terrorism and suffered heavy human and financial damage, citing the Thursday bombing in southeastern port city of Chabahar as the latest terrorist attack which left two policemen said. Such attacks, Rouhani said, will not deter the Iranian nation in its resolve to fight all forms of terrorism.
AFP, AP, Reuters and Press TV contributed to this story. on numerous motorways, causing havoc on the national road network.
Deputy Interior Minister Laurent Nunez said an estimated 31,000 people were taking part in protests nationwide, including 8,000 in Paris – similar numbers to last week.
Around 700 people had been detained, most of them in Paris.
Police carried out checks on people arriving at the capital’s train stations, confiscating items that could be used as projectiles as well as surgical masks and goggles used to protect against the effects Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Saturday chastised the US policy of pouring weapons into the Middle East far beyond its real defense needs, warning that this has turned the region into a “powder keg.”
“The Americans have turned the region into a powder keg. The amount of weaponry, which is sold on the part of the US is unbelievable and quite a lot in excess of what the region needs,” Zarif said.
“This indicates the very dangerous policy that the Americans pursue in our region,” he added, according to Press TV.
Zarif cited a recent report noting that weapons supplied by the US and Britain had “fallen into” the hands of splinter groups in Yemen, “some with links to Al-qaeda and Daesh,” asserting that the oversupply of the arms had not contributed to peace and security in the region in any manner.
He was answering a question about recent accusations against Iran’s missile program by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who claimed that the Islamic Republic had tested a missile “capable of carrying nuclear warheads.” of tear gas.
Some of those arrested were carrying hammers, slingshots and rocks. But many of the demonstrators insisted they wanted no violence.
Washington, Zarif said, is trying to portray the realities of the region “upside down,” resort to “meaningless” accusations, and trouble Tehran’s relations with Europe.
He said the Americans have become isolated in the world, found a need to enter this fray, and even apprehended the chief financial officer of the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei to further their policies. Meng Wanzhou, daughter of Huawei’s founder, who was arrested in Vancouver on December 1, faces “fraud charges” in the US and is accused of breaking American sanctions on Iran.
Zarif said, “This is more indicative of the US desperation than its power.”