Zarif says US has turned Mid­dle East into ‘pow­der keg’

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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.”




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