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Iran Press TV

Merchants of war: EU's arms sales to West Asia

Iran Press TV

Saturday, 05 December 2020 11:39 AM

An outrageous statement by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas regarding the negotiation of a new nuclear deal with Tehran has been met with a devastating response from his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif.

In an interview with Spiegel magazine on Friday, Maas spoke of what he called a "nuclear deal plus" with Iran, saying the accord would also cover the country's conventional missile program and regional role.

The top German diplomat — whose country currently holds the presidency of the European Union (EU) — said the Europeans have "clear expectations for Iran," and that's because they "distrust" the country.

In response, Zarif took to Twitter later in the day to remind the European signatories to the 2015 deal — Germany, France and Britain — of their own "malign behavior" in the region and failure to live up to their obligations under the multilateral nuclear deal following the US's unilateral pullout in May 2018.

Zarif said the trio should stop violations of the Iran deal, named the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which has been ratified by UN Security Council 2231, and end their $100-billion arms sales to the region as well as their blind support for the Israeli regime.

The German foreign minister's criticism of Iran's conventional missile program and its stabilizing role in the region comes as the three European states have long been major procurers of lethal weapons for aggressor regimes in the region and also a proponent of fueling conflicts there.

The massive arms sales between the three and the regional states of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which have spearheaded a protracted aggression on Yemen, have been the main source of instability in the volatile region.

Small arms and other military aid by European states have played a role in perpetuating conflict but major weapons systems have caused massive destruction in the region, said William Hartung, the author of a report published this week by the Washington-based Center for International Policy (CIP).

"Aerial bombardment and the use of long-range artillery have been instrumental in the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians directly, and are indirectly responsible for hundreds of thousands" when the bombing of infrastructure is taken into account, Hartung added in his report.

In 2018 alone, Berlin approved 400 million euros of exports to Saudi Arabia, making the oil-rich country the biggest purchaser of German arms in West Asia.

The UK, on the other hand, has licensed over £4.7 billion worth of arms exports, including missiles and fighter jets, to Riyadh since the deadly war on Yemen began in 2015.

France, the third-biggest arms exporter in the world, is also among the top weapons exporters to Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.

Official data showed that the French government sold 1 billion euros' worth of arms to Saudi Arabia in 2018, a 50 percent increase from last year despite growing international concern about the atrocities committed in the Saudi-led war on Yemen.

Overall, European countries have approved arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE worth more than $86.7 billion since 2015, when the two allies launched an all-out war against Yemen, according to the online news outlet Middle East Eye.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its allies — mainly the United Arab Emirates (UAE) — invaded Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing a former Yemeni client regime back to power. The ongoing war has killed tens of thousands and disrupted the lives of millions by causing widespread famine as well as epidemics.

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