Major Western powers condemn Iranian missile barrage but urge de-escalation, restraint

China, India and Russia all decline to censure unprecedented Iranian attack, with Moscow pouring scorn on notion that it would condemn Tehran

Jeremy Sharon is The Times of Israel’s legal affairs and settlements reporter

Israeli air defense systems intercept missiles fired from Iran, in central Israel, April 14, 2024. (AP/Tomer Neuberg)
Israeli air defense systems intercept missiles fired from Iran, in central Israel, April 14, 2024. (AP/Tomer Neuberg)

A raft of Western nations condemned Iran’s unprecedented drone and missile assault on Israel early Sunday morning, and expressed strong support for Israel and its security following the massive aerial bombardment.

Major powers including the US, UK, Canada, France and Germany all lambasted Iran for the huge salvo of more than 300 projectiles it unleashed toward Israel, along with at least 21 other Western nations as well as United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres and European Union Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrel.

The major Western powers said they were committed to Israel’s defense but at the same time said they were working to prevent further escalation, as rhetoric in Israel grows for tough retaliation against Tehran’s aerial barrage.

Notably however, key nations such as China, India and Saudi Arabia failed to condemn the attack and called for restraint and de-escalation. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held a call with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on Saturday night to confirm the “mutual commitment to maintaining a high level of coordination on international and regional agenda priorities” between the two sides.

Tehran reacted negatively to some of the criticism, with the Iranian foreign ministry summoning the ambassadors of the UK, France and Germany to question what it referred to as their “irresponsible stance” regarding the strikes on Israel according to the semi-official Iranian Labour News Agency.

Following the attacks, US President Joe Biden and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken both repeated the administration’s message that America’s commitment to Israel’s security against Iran was “ironclad,” and that the US would “continue to support Israel’s defense.”

Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak records a statement on the Iranian attacks on Israel overnight, inside 10 Downing Street, London, Sunday, April 14, 2024. (Benjamin Cremel/Pool via AP)

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also issued a tough statement, condemning “in the strongest possible terms” Tehran’s attack, and saying the UK would “continue to stand up for Israel’s security,” while “urgently working to stabilize the situation and prevent further escalation.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada “unequivocally condemns Iran’s airborne attacks against Israel,” adding: “We support Israel’s right to defend itself and its people from these attacks.”

Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz described the Iranian attack as “unjustifiable and highly irresponsible” and added that “Germany stands by Israel.”

French President Emanuel Macron was also fierce in his criticism of Iran’s assault.

“I condemn in the strongest terms the unprecedented attack launched by Iran against Israel, which threatens to destabilize the region,” said Macron.

“I express my solidarity with the Israeli people and France’s commitment to the security of Israel, our partners, and regional stability,” adding that his country was “working on de-escalation with its partners and calls for restraint.”

And Argentina’ President Javier Milei’s office said it “expresses its solidarity and unwavering commitment to the State of Israel,” while Milei himself, who is well-known for his pro-Israel stance, re-posted a comment on X saying “Am Israeli Jai” — the people of Israel live.

Major nations in the so-called Global South, including the world’s two most populous nations, India and China, were far more circumspect in their response to the regional flare up.

US President Joe Biden, along with members of his national security team, receive an update on an ongoing airborne attack on Israel from Iran, as they meet in the Situation Room of the White House in Washington, April 13, 2024. (Adam Schultz/The White House via AP)

An unnamed spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry said merely that “China expresses deep concern over the current escalation” and called on “relevant parties” to refrain from “further escalations.”

And India’s Ministry of External Affairs said it was “seriously concerned at the escalation of hostilities between Israel and Iran” without assigning blame, and called for “immediate de-escalation,” and “exercise of restraint.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry expressed “extreme concern at yet another dangerous escalation in the Middle East” and called on “all parties involved in the conflict to exercise restraint.”

But the ministry’s spokesperson Maria Zakharova later poured scorn on the idea that Russia would condemn Iran’s attack, saying on X “Remind me when was the last time that Israel condemned at least one of Kiev’s attacks on Russian regions?” in relation to Russia’s invasion and occupation of Ukraine.

Chile’s foreign minister said the country “condemned the use of force” but did not explicitly condemn Iran, while Mexico’s foreign ministry “expresses deep concern over Iran’s attack” but likewise did not directly condemn Tehran.

And Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who has been highly critical of how Israel has prosecuted the war in Gaza, said merely that his government was “following events in the Middle East with the deepest concern” and says its embassies will remain open “to support Spaniards in the area.”

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