Amid threat of new sanctions, Iran accuses France of ‘destabilizing’ Middle East
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Amid threat of new sanctions, Iran accuses France of ‘destabilizing’ Middle East

Tehran says it will review ties with any European country that sanctions it, after French FM warns of penalties if missile talks fail

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, right, and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian, shake hands for journalists at the start of their meeting in Tehran, Iran, on March 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, right, and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian, shake hands for journalists at the start of their meeting in Tehran, Iran, on March 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran has accused France of being a destabilizing force in the region after its foreign minister threatened new sanctions against Tehran over its missile program.

“The Islamic Republic has always called for the strengthening of peace and stability in the region,” the Iranian foreign ministry said in a statement released overnight Friday.

As such Iran “considers the mass sales of sophisticated and offensive weapons by… France as a factor in destabilizing the balance of the region,” the statement said.

It came after French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Friday said Paris was ready to impose new sanctions on Tehran if talks on its missile program and its regional influence fail to make progress.

In this photo released on October 1, 2018, by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, a missile is fired from city of Kermanshah in western Iran targeting the Islamic State group in Syria. (Sepahnews via AP)

“We have begun a difficult dialogue with Iran… and unless progress is made we are ready to apply sanctions, firmly, and they know it,” Le Drian said.

Le Drian also demanded that Iran change its behavior in the region, specifically regarding its military presence in Syria.

The Iranian foreign ministry responded saying “Iran’s missile program is not negotiable” and warned that “any new sanction by European countries will lead to a review of our relations with them.”

Iran reined in most of its nuclear program under a landmark 2015 deal with major powers — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States — that lifted sanctions on the republic.

But in May the United States withdrew from the deal and re-imposed sanctions on Tehran.

The EU has been trying to set up a special payment mechanism to maintain trade and business ties with Iran and circumvent the US sanctions.

Tehran has continued to develop its ballistic missile technology but says it has no intention of acquiring atomic weapons and that its missile development programs are purely defensive.

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