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Iran accuses France of ‘destabilizing’ region

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif during a joint press conference with U.K. Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Philip Hammond in Shahrbani Palace. (Hamed Malekpour/Wikimedia)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Iran has accused France of destabilizing the region after Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian 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 on January 25-26.

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 Le Drian on January 25 said Paris was ready to impose new sanctions on Tehran if talks on its missile program make no progress.

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“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.

He also demanded that Iran change its behavior in the region, especially regarding its military actions in Syria.

“Iran’s missile program is not negotiable,” the Iranian Foreign Ministry said in response, warning that “any new sanction by European countries will lead to a review of our relations with them.”

Iran gave up most of its nuclear program under a landmark 2015 deal with major powers — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States — in exchange for sanctions lifting.

But in May the United States withdrew from the agreement and reimposed sanctions on Tehran.

Tehran has continued to develop its ballistic missiles but it says the program is purely defensive.