TEHRAN (Dispatches) – Iran hit out at the German foreign minister over his harsh words after returning from Tehran, telling Europe that it has a right to reconsider its commitments under the nuclear deal if other signatories don’t fulfill their own.
Heiko Maas threatened Tehran during a visit to Sweden that it would face "isolation” if it pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and that such a move "cannot be in Iran’s interest”.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi on Wednesday reminded the top German diplomat that the JCPOA "has several sides,” and that "all of them should equally fulfill their commitments” under the agreement.
"If they cannot do so, they need to understand that we will, in return, resort to the mechanisms available to us under the JCPOA and reconsider our commitments,” he said.
He went on to say, "If European friends are too much concerned about preserving the JCPOA, they should call on all parties to honor their obligations.”
The JCPOA was signed between Iran and six world states — namely the U.S., Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China. Washington, however, left the accord last May, leaving the future of the historic deal in doubt.
Last month, Iran stopped to observe some of its commitments under the JCPOA and gave the other signatories 60 days to put their mere verbal support for the accord into concrete action.
Maas traveled to Iran this week in an effort to save the international nuclear deal that Tehran struck with world powers in 2015.
His trip drew widespread coverage and criticism in Iran, with the country's press saying the EU has been ineffective when it comes to granting sanctions relief in exchange for Iran's compliance with the terms of the agreement.
While media outlets close to President Hassan Rouhani's government mildly criticized positions taken by Maas, other newspapers flayed "Europe's envoy" over his remarks.
A cartoon published by the Javan newspaper depicted Maas with blue Star of David glasses, donning a swastika armband and performing a Nazi salute.
"The stinking leftovers of Nazism and fascism have manifested themselves in the spirit of the weakest Europe in history," the paper wrote in an accompanying editorial.
Javan questioned why Maas was allowed to travel to Iran in the first place. The EU "sent its envoy to Iran to say 'Europe cannot act without America's approval,'" the paper complained. "So what's the point of this trip after all?"
The newspaper not only criticized "Europe's failure" to fulfill obligations under the nuclear deal, but also lashed out at the German foreign minister's statement defending the occupying regime of Israel.
"Supporting Israel and our close friendship with them are undebatable. They are part of the principles and convictions of Germany's government and cannot be changed. This is a responsibility that history has given us and I will not change this principle in Tehran," Maas said Monday.
The Persian daily Kayhan called the German approach toward the "illegitimate and childlike regime" of Israel as "degrading" and "nothing but slavery".
The paper also complained that Maas was "arrogant and impolite" in the way he interacted with Iranian officials.
Kayhan also lambasted a correspondent of Germany's Bild newspaper, who asked a question about homosexuals. The daily wrote: "Bild's reporter, as a representative of the German media, asked our foreign minister a shameless question: 'Why doesn't Iran respect homosexual acts?'"
Arman, a reformist newspaper, titled its article, "We cannot perform miracles," words that it noted were part of the final statement of the German minister.
"The German foreign minister's statements showed that he came to Iran with nothing in hand. Europe is trying to manage a crisis in the region, but is unable to compensate for its shortcomings and weaknesses," Hamidreza Assefi, a former spokesperson for Iran's foreign ministry, wrote in a commentary for the paper.
"Germany has cooperated with U.S. President Donald Trump's administration in every possible way," Assefi continued.
During his visit to Iran, Maas acknowledged that the economic benefits Tehran hoped for from the nuclear deal were now "more difficult to obtain" but urged Iran to fully respect the agreement. It is in Iran's "political and strategic interest to maintain this agreement and the dialogue with Europe", he claimed.