Zarif asks Pompeo: “What exactly is extortion”!? 

September 7, 2019

TEHRAN - Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Saturday asked U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that “what exactly is extortion?”

The remarks by Zarif came after Pompeo on Friday pressed European nations to stop what he called Iran's "extortion" after Tehran again reduced its commitments under a nuclear deal in response to U.S. sanctions.

Writing on his Twitter account, Zarif asked: Is extortion “violating a UN resolution and punishing anyone observing it?”

The Trump administration violated the UN Security Resolution 2231 that endorsed the 2015 nuclear deal – officially called the JCPOA – and introduced the harshest ever sanctions on Iran. The U.S. has also threatened to penalize any country that enters business with Iran.

Zarif also asked the U.S. secretary of state does extortion means “offering bribes for theft of oil and designating those who refuse?”

According to the Financial Times, Brian Hook, head of the State Department's Iran Action Group, sent an email promising the captain of Iranian supertanker Grace 1 - renamed the Adrian Darya 1 -   "several million dollars" to sail the vessel somewhere the U.S. could seize it.

"This is Brian Hook... I work for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and serve as the U.S. representative for Iran," Hook wrote to Akhilesh Kumar, the Indian captain of the supertanker, according to emails viewed by the FT.

Kumar ignored the emails. The U.S. then imposed sanctions on him personally.

The term “civilized nations” used by Pompeo also drew Zarif’s derision, asking him in another tweet, “Do you even know what CIVILIZED means?”

Zarif asked, “Is it sending drones over weddings to kill innocents?” 

"We are confident that the UK, France and Germany -- indeed, all civilized nations -- will take decisive actions to stop Iran's nuclear extortion," Pompeo tweeted, according to AFP.  

The United States have been dropping bombs on wedding ceremonies in Afghanistan and supplying advanced arms to the Saudi-led coalition in their war against Yemen. The Saudi-led air raids on Yemen has also targeted wedding ceremonies. 

Zarif then drew a comparison between Iran and the United States in terms of “civilized” behavior, saying in view of the White House probably civilized means “pouring lethal weapons into a region to enable inhuman wars”.

Reminding Pompeo of Iran’s ancient civilization and its history of not invading any country over the past four centuries, Zarif said Iran is a “millennia-old nation that hasn’t attacked anyone for centuries.”

Iran has been negotiating with European powers that hope to salvage the 2015 nuclear accord despite the withdrawal last year by the United States, which reimposed punishing sanctions.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday that Tehran would step up research and development work in line with its stated policy to reduce nuclear commitments if it is not shielded from U.S. sanctions.

Iranian officials have insisted that Tehran would fully adhere to the deal if it sees economic relief, such as a greater ability to sell its oil -- banned through unilateral U.S. sanctions -- or a credit line mulled by France.

PA/PA

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