BEIJING (Dispatches) — Iranian Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif on Friday called for "concrete action” to safeguard the 2015 nuclear deal as he warned of a "dangerous” situation amid rising tensions with the U.S.
Tensions have ratcheted up with the U.S. deploying an aircraft carrier group and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf last week.
On a visit to Beijing, Zarif said he would talk with Chinese officials about "bilateral ties and the very dangerous issues that are ongoing in our region today,” according to a video published on the Iranian foreign ministry website.
Amid escalating tensions in the region, Zarif has called on the international community to save the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.
"So far the international community has mostly released statements rather than taking action,” Zarif said.
"If the international community and other JCPOA member countries and our friends in the JCPOA like China and Russia want to keep this achievement, it is required that they make sure the Iranian people enjoy the benefits of the JCPOA with concrete actions,” he added.
Zarif said last week that only Russia and China had supported Iran and helped it keep the nuclear deal going, and accused other parties to the agreement of letting Tehran down.
China was one of the eight global buyers — India, Turkey, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Italy and Greece — that was allowed to import Iranian crude oil before the US ended waivers in early May.
Zarif’s China trip came after visits to Turkmenistan, India and Japan in the past week.
Despite Washington’s campaign of "maximum pressure” against Iran, the Islamic Republic has vowed to keep selling oil to its main customers, especially China, even if it requires using indirect means.
On May 8, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Iran would stop observing restrictions on stocks of enriched uranium and heavy water agreed under the nuclear deal in retaliation for the U.S. withdrawal and the reimposition of sanctions.
In his announcement, Rouhani threatened to go further if the European members of the deal failed to start delivering on their promises to help Iran circumvent U.S. sanctions within 60 days.
In Tokyo, the Iranian foreign minister said Thursday he is not interested in negotiating with the United States.
"No, there is no possibility for negotiations," Zarif answered when asked in an interview with Kyodo News and other Japanese news outlets in Tokyo whether he would be open to holding bilateral talks aimed at easing tensions.
Writing on Twitter, President Donald Trump on Wednesday dismissed as "fake news” reports he is frustrated with his top aides on Iran, including National Security Advisor John Bolton, for carrying forward warlike plans. "I’m sure that Iran will want to talk soon,” he said.
Zarif, who earlier in the day met with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Foreign Minister Taro Kono, called the United States a "bully" for pressuring other countries including Japan to adhere to its economic sanctions including a ban on buying Iranian oil.
"This is the first time in history that a bully is telling everybody else, important countries, that 'I'm going to punish you if you observe something that I do not like,'" said Zarif.
Countries including China, India and Japan were initially granted sanctions waivers but the U.S. terminated them earlier this month.
"Let us assume that a bully is standing in a cross section on the street and telling everybody, 'If you don't pass the red light, I'm going to beat you.' This is exactly what the U.S. is telling them," Zarif said, adding, "This is economic terrorism, pure and simple."
Zarif also criticized the European parties to the nuclear deal and Japan for going along with the U.S. sanctions despite publically supporting the nuclear deal.
"I have to stress that it is important for all other members of the JCPOA to take serious account of their continued failure because Europe unfortunately, while supporting JCPOA verbally, has not been able to take any action. Unfortunately, our Japanese partners also have not taken action to implement JCPOA," he said.