MOST FRENCH FIRMS WON’T BE ABLE TO STAY IN IRAN
LONDON, June 19, (Agencies): Iran has no plans to extend the range of its missiles since their 2,000-km (1,240-mile) reach is enough to protect the country, the Revolutionary Guards commander said on Tuesday, amid mounting US pressure over Tehran’s missile programme. Iran’s government again ruled out negotiations with US President Donald Trump over Tehran’s military capabilities and regional influence, saying that such talks would be against the values of the Islamic Republic.
Trump withdrew the United States last month from the 2015 accord between Iran and world powers that curbed Tehran’s nuclear activity in exchange for sanctions relief. He said the deal was deeply flawed as it had not curbed Iran’s ballistic missile programme or reined in its support for proxies in conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, and said Washington would reimpose tough sanctions on Tehran.
“We have the scientific ability to increase our missile range but it is not our current policy since most of the enemies’ strategic targets are already within this 2,000-km range. This range is enough to protect the Islamic Republic…,” Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency.
Jafari said on Tuesday previous negotiations with the United States about Iran’s nuclear programme were “an exception”, and called Iranian politicians and activists who have favoured fresh talks with Trump as “traitors and antirevolutionaries”.
On Saturday, over 100 activists associated with the moderate and reformist camps in Iranian politics welcomed Trump’s deal with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un envisaging a complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. In a statement published by Iranian media, the activists urged Tehran to start direct negotiations with Washington “with no preconditions” to resolve decades of enmity between the two countries dating to Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution. Jafari rejected their call.
“The North Korean leader was a revolutionary but a communist, not an Islamic one. That is why he surrendered, but we will not do the same,” he was quoted by the semi-official Fars news agency as saying. Iranian government spokesman Mohammad Bagher Nobakht echoed Jafari’s remarks. “There are no grounds or logic to talk to such a person (Trump). Public opinion would not welcome that either,” Nobakht was quoted as saying by ISNA news agency. Jafari said previously that the range of Iran’s ballistic missiles was based on limits set by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who commands the armed forces.
Difficult to stay
Most French companies hoping to continue doing business in Iran after the US imposes new sanctions on the country will find it impossible to do so, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Tuesday. These companies “won’t be able to stay because they need to be paid for the products they deliver to, or build in Iran, and they cannot be paid because there is no sovereign and autonomous European financial institution capable of shielding them”, Le Maire told BFM television.
The new sanctions announced by US President Donald Trump in May after he pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran would punish any foreign firm operating in Iran which also does business with the US or in dollars. “Our priority is to build independent, sovereign European financial institutions which would allow financing channels between French, Italian, German, Spanish and any other countries on the planet,” Le Maire said. “It’s up to us Europeans to choose freely and with sovereign power who we want to do business with,” he added.
“The United States should not be the planet’s economic policeman.” Le Maire and his EU counterparts have been trying to secure exemptions for their firms, many of which rushed back into Iran after the landmark accord curtailing Tehran’s nuclear programme. French carmaker Renault, which does not sell cars in the US, has said it will remain despite the sanctions. But French oil group Total and carmaker PSA have already indicated they are likely to pull out of Iran. Analysts have warned it would be nearly impossible to protect multinationals from the reach of the “extraterritorial” US measures, given the exposure of large banks to the US financial system and dollar transactions.
The first round of the new sanctions, targeting Iran’s auto and civil aviation sectors, are scheduled to go into effect on Aug 6. Le Maire’s calls for reinforced European institutions come as French President Emmanuel Macron heads to Germany on Tuesday seeking a roadmap for eurozone reforms with Chancellor Angela Merkel. Macron is pushing for deeper integration, including a common eurozone investment budget; new fiscal rules for tech giants; a harmonised EU corporate tax; and measures to shore up eurozone banks.
The proposals are on the agenda for a key EU summit on June 28-29. “We’re at the moment of truth for the Franco-German relationship, and the moment of truth for the eurozone as a whole,” Le Maire said. “In the next few hours, either the president and the chancellor reach an accord on these four points, and they will have made a major stop toward reinforcing the eurozone, that is to say our economic stability and our financial security,” he said. “Or else, we’re not able to sign a deal, and we enter — I don’t hesitate to say it — a turbulent time for the eurozone.”