French foreign minister in Iran amid missile criticism

Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi

Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi

The French minister had arrived in Iran on Sunday on a delicate mission to reaffirm Europe's support for a nuclear deal that opened Iran's economy, while echoing U.S. concern about Tehran's missile program and role in regional conflicts.

Any collapse of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major powers would be a "great loss", the head of the United Nations atomic agency policing the accord said on Monday, alluding to a US threat to pull out of it. The United States and the Europeans (.), particularly in the banking sector, therefore they are not in a position to set conditions to the country that has fully implemented its commitments, Zarif said.

On Saturday, Brigadier General Jazayeri had said that the Islamic Republic's prerequisite for talks on its missile program is for the U.S. and certain European states to destroy their long-range missiles and nuclear weapons.

The Iranian foreign minister also criticized some European countries for "being influenced under US pressures" over Iran's nuclear deal and missile program.

Ahead of Le Drian's trip, the French Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying he would pursue "a frank and demanding dialogue with Iran".

For his part, Le Drian hailed Iran's commitment to the JCPOA and said that France insists on the full implementation of the deal.

Le Drian faced immediate pushback over French concerns about Iran's ballistic missiles, starting with Iranian students waving signs at Iran's Mehrabad International Airport protesting his comments.

The Iranian official called for the acceleration of implementation of the Iranian nuclear deal.

"Iran will boost its defensive power including the missile capabilities, and its deterrent plan will not be affected by the political pressures, " the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani said. Shamkhani, a former chief of Iran's navy, made a point to wear his military uniform to the meeting.

It's unclear how much of an effect Le Drian's talks will have in Iran, especially as newspapers greeted him Monday with headlines calling him an "impudent guest" and "Trump's Parisian servant".

President Donald Trump in December refused to re-certify the pact, known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action - prompting reprimand from world leaders.

"Protecting this diplomatic achievement must be equally important for all of us and verbal support is not enough", Zarif told his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian at a meeting in Tehran, according to Trend.

Still, Le Drian told The Times of Israel he is not "an emissary of Trump", and "there's still a lot of work to do on Iran's missile program".

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