Russian President Vladimir Putin. (File Photo)
Moscow and Tehran on Monday blamed US policies for tensions in the Middle East while Russia said it welcomed French efforts to save the Iran nuclear deal. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif condemned Washington’s latest actions in Syria as he visited Moscow for talks with Russia’s top diplomat Sergei Lavrov.
At the weekend US forces attacked jihadist leaders in north-western Syria, in what a battlefield monitor called a missile strike that left at least 40 dead.
“Together with Russia and Turkey, Iran has ensured relative security and calm in Syria,” Zarif told journalists after talks with Lavrov.
“But the United States is creating a new unstable situation east of the Euphrates in Syria including through actions they’ve undertaken in Idlib.” Moscow has said that the Americans hit the region “without advance notice to Russia or Turkey”, threatening a fragile ceasefire in the province of Idlib.
Lavrov also accused Washington of seeking to “provoke” Tehran after the United States withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal last year.
“Our American partners are openly seeking to provoke Iran with the support of some of their regional allies,” he said.
Earlier, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke with French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, warning him Iran would take the next step in reducing its nuclear commitments unless Europe lives up to its own undertakings. Earlier, the UN atomic watchdog has said Iran is still in violation of limitations set by the 2015 nuclear deal with major powers. Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium still exceeds the amount allowed by the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action the International Atomic Energy Agency said. It said Iran continues to enrich uranium to 4.5 per cent, above the 3.67 per cent allowed.
Tensions have spiked in the Gulf since May last year when President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers—known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Ships have been attacked, drones downed and oil tankers seized in the Gulf in recent months.