Iran’s foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, told his French counterpart that Tehran “will vigorously continue boosting its defense power.” Their sovereign right, he said, will be exercised “inattentive to America’s unconstructive behavior.”

In the face of growing criticism from Western powers, the Islamic Republic has said that its controversial missile program is part of its “defense doctrine” and will never be up for negotiations.

The Iranian top diplomat’s phone conversation with Jean-Yves Le Drian was held less than three weeks before the scheduled resumption of negotiations aimed at restoring the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Former US president Donald Trump walked away from the multilateral accord in May 2018. His successor, Joe Biden, however, has been seeking re-entry on the condition that Iran demonstrate full compliance with the agreement. The previous six rounds that involved indirect contacts between the Islamic Republic and the Biden administration were adjourned in June, when the seat of executive power in Tehran was being taken by hard-line President Ebrahim Raisi.

Amir-Abdollahian told the French foreign minister that Tehran will pursue a “pragmatic approach” in the talks, emphasizing the Iranian stance that Washington must guarantee that it will never abandon the agreement again. He accused the three European members of the JCPOA — the UK, France and Germany — of “silence” in the face of “US excessive demands.”

The Iranian minister also sent similar messages to Germany’s top diplomat, Heiko Maas, during a separate conversation. In what seemed to be an effort to flex muscles ahead of the Vienna meetings, Amir-Abdollahian warned the Europeans against expressing “inflammatory comments” that could “jeopardize the ongoing efforts.”

The European sides have issued statements of “grave and growing concern” about Iran’s failures to honor the JCPOA with increased uranium enrichment. Such activities, Western powers fear, are bringing Iran closer to making a bomb, a situation which the JCPOA was meant to avert in the first place.

In a veiled defiance to those statements, the Iranian minister declared that “the language of force and threats will serve no good.” Warning that “Iran will not give in to [such] false propaganda,” Amir-Abdollahian was perhaps signaling the complicated nature of the fresh talks in the Vienna, where an intense tug of war is expected before any actual revival of the JCPOA.

Source » al-monitor