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Russian Says EU Must Stop Trying To Please The U.S. On Iran

RUSSIA - Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov attends a news conference in Moscow, Russia February 7, 2019.

Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov says the EU must stop trying to please the U.S. if it wants to cooperate with Iran.

Speaking to journalists February 11, Ryabkov said Iran’s missile program does not violate the nuclear deal, and said the EU’s calls for Iran to scrap the program are motivated by a desire to please the U.S.

"The Europeans cannot fail to understand that Iran's missile program is not a threat. It involves a set of measures to strengthen national security, and by developing its missile program, Iran is exercising its sovereign right to self-defense,” Ryabkov said.

Referring to Israeli strikes on Iranian targets in Syria, Ryabkov said that Moscow shares Israel's security concerns, but condemns "unlawful strikes" on targets in Syria.

In an interview with CNN in late January Ryabkov said, “Russia and Iran are not allies in Syria," adding "Russia is committed to Israel's security and Iran is aware of that." Ryabkov further stated that Russia was against Iran's hostile acts against Israel.

In his remarks on Monday Ryabkov said "Israel's security is a top priority for us. By saying that, I don't mean that Israel's unlawful strikes on Syria, including on facilities somehow related to Iran or receiving Iranian aid, are legitimate and can be justified. We condemn them as illegitimate.”

Ryabkov said that remaining members of the nuclear deal with Iran, also called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), will meet in March. He encouraged the EU to do whatever it takes to continue its dialog with Iran.

On January 31, France, the UK, and Germany registered INSTEX, a special financial mechanism to facilitate Iran’s international trade, but said the mechanism's becoming operational depends on the fulfillment of further commitments by Iran.

The EU trio have called on Iran to officially join the international conventions against money laundering and terrorism funding as called for by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The Iranian parliament has passed legislation to join the conventions, but hardliner-dominated institutions have so far delayed their final approval.

The Europeans say INSTEX will be use to sell food, medicine, and medical devices in Iran, but that this may be expanded to include other products in the future.

Infographic:The Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges(INSTEX)
Infographic:The Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges(INSTEX)

Ryabkov said trade should not be limited to essential goods in order to allow Iran to “start feeling some results” from the agreement.

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department has warned the EU about INSTEX, saying those who try to circumvent U.S. sanctions might face heavy fines and other punishments.

The United States withdrew from the nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018. U.S. President Donald Trump said the deal does not prevent Iran's nuclear activities or its missile programs and regional ambitions. Since then, the US re-imposed sanctions on Iran making it hard for Iran to export its oil. The resulting economic pressure has worsened the country's economic crisis and created widespread dissent.