Apr 22, 2020, 5:49 PM
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Envoy: Entire region call for US withdrawal

New York, April 22, IRNA - Iran’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Majid Takht Ravanchi referred to Hormuz Peace Endeavor (HOPE) as Iran’s initiative, saying the entire region is now after US withdrawal from this sensitive part of the world.

“The best thing that can happen in the region is the US withdrawal from this sensitive part of the world,” Takht Ravanchi said in an interview with Hong Kong-based media ‘Asia Times’.

“This has been expressly called for by the Iraqi parliament and this position is shared by the people in the entire region,” he added. 

“Many of the problems in our region are rooted in the US military presence in this neighborhood,” Iranian envoy said, adding: “Furthermore, Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal has exacerbated tension in the region.” 

“We are not responsible for the current tense situation. The US has come to the Persian Gulf from thousands of miles away from its shores.”

“They are selling billions of dollars’ worth of deadly armaments to certain countries in this region. They are making every effort to sow discord amongst regional countries.”

“The US is definitely not interested in the improvement of relations between Iran and its neighbors.”

“Last year, President [Hassan] Rouhani introduced an initiative for the establishment of a regional security arrangements in the Persian Gulf, called Hormuz Peace Endeavor (HOPE),” Takht Ravanchi said reiterating that Iran has always wanted to live in peace with its eighbors.

“We believe that through inclusion [rather] than exclusion, cooperation [rather] than rivalry, good neighborliness [rather] than interference in the internal affairs of others and detente [rather] than tension building, regional countries can build a better and safer region," diplomat noted.

Elaborating on the impact of coronavirus pandemic on Iran’s foreign policy priorities, he said: “There is no doubt that the pandemic has changed the world. Besides the hardships that it has brought about to an overwhelming majority of nations, particularly the precious lives which have been lost as a result, the world economy has been badly affected by this virus.”

“Iran is no exception. We have been hit hard by the pandemic and are striving hard to contain and hopefully defeat it soon. We have one of the best medical staffs in the world who are working hard all across Iran to help the patients. They have done a great job in saving lives despite the fact that inhumane sanctions continue to create hardships for our people including in the medical field.”

“Nowadays, Iran’s foreign policy is geared towards working with other countries in the direction of total elimination of this pandemic. A number of countries, including some neighbors, and international organizations have provided assistance to Iran. At the same time, the US continues to impose its illegal sanctions against our country.” 

“As the latest example, last week the US banned South Korea from selling coronavirus diagnostic test kits to Iran. At this critical juncture, the Iranian people will never forget those who are helping and those who are hurting them.”

When Iranian ambassador was asked to predict the future of Iran nuclear deal otherwise known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), he said: “JCPOA is the result of more than 12 years of intense negotiations with a number of countries. For almost three and a half years, Iran honored all its JCPOA commitments.”

“When in May 2018 the US, in violation of its international commitments, withdrew from the nuclear deal, our European partners in the deal pleaded with Iran not to do the same and leave the deal.”

He added: “They promised us to compensate the damages inflicted on us as a result of the US’ withdrawal. We accepted their request and waited for almost a year to only witness that the promises made to us by our EU partners were not kept.”

“It was at that time in May 2019 when Iran had to act in accordance with articles 26 and 36 of JCPOA and ceased performing certain parts of its commitments. We have clearly stated that as soon as our European partners go back to the full implementation of JCPOA, Iran will immediately reverse back its steps and go back to the full implementation of JCPOA too.”

In response to another question about the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX), Takht Ravanchi said:

“INSTEX had been in the making since the US exited from JCPOA and it took more than a year to be operational. Its success is yet to be known and depends on European countries’ ability to provide it with the necessary liquidity. We have always emphasized on our JCPOA rights to be materialized through available mechanisms.”

“If INSTEX can do the job, we welcome that. If other mechanisms can do it, we are fine with that too. The important thing is that Iran should enjoy the dividends enshrined in the deal. Up to now, one instance of trade has been registered through INSTEX. That is a good thing.”

“However, what needs to be done is to expand the scope of this mechanism to include non-humanitarian trade as well as to make financial resources available to INSTEX so that it can facilitate large amounts of trade.”

“INSTEX needs to be financed, either through the money received from Iranian oil sales to Europe or through direct financing by European countries. Iranian oil is not under EU sanctions. Therefore, Europe can buy oil from Iran for immediate or future use.”

“EU’s approach towards Iran, including in the area of trade and business, particularly when the infamous maximum pressure policy of the US is becoming harsher, will be a determining factor in the future for long-term Iran-EU relations.”

Commenting on US’ Administration decision to block Iran’s $5b request of loan from the International Monetary Fund to fight coronavirus, Iranian diplomat said: “Many countries have been affected by the Covid-19, requiring assistance from abroad to cope with different aspects of the pandemic particularly its economic fallout. Some affected countries have requested the IMF to provide financial assistance to them.”

“The IMF has a number of methods to address these requests and one of them is “Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI)” which is designed, as its name implies, to provide rapid assistance to countries in need.”

“Iran has requested the IMF to provide it with a US$5 billion loan through this mechanism because we have been hit hard by the virus and is one of the most eligible countries to receive such assistance. It is an open secret that the US is doing everything possible to delay the IMF’s decision on Iran’s request with the ultimate hope of persuading IMF Board members to reject it.”

“In the eyes of Iranians, US hostility towards them is given. Now the IMF’s credibility is on the line. Our talks with the IMF are still ongoing and we hope the Fund will soon make the right decision to grant the loan to Iran.”

For much of the interview, he pointed to Iran’s response to the call by UN Secretary General for a universal truce in light of the growing coronavirus pandemic, saying: “The Secretary General’s call for a comprehensive ceasefire should be taken seriously by the international community because it can play an important role in the fight against Covid-19, which is a pandemic affecting the whole world.”

“In addition to the Secretary General’s appeal for a universal truce, he and a number of UN high officials, governments, parliamentarians including from the US and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have called for the lifting of sanctions so as to enable the countries affected by the coronavirus to better fight it.”

“Iran is one of the countries which have been hit hard by Covid-19. The continuation of illegal and inhuman US unilateral sanctions against Iran undermines our efforts to defeat this menace.”

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