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US risks further destabilising Middle East warns France

Iran has scorned Washington's threats [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 May, 2018

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US threats against Iran will only encourage hardliners, warns French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.
The US risks further destabilising the Middle East, warned France on Wednesday, after Washington threatened that Iran is facing the "strongest sanctions in history".

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the new measures will empower conservatives at the expensse of moderates in Iran.

"The sanctions to be launched against Iran will not foster dialogue - on the contrary - they will boost the importance and power of Iran's conservatives and weaken President [Hassan] Rouhani, who wanted to negotiate," Le Drian said.

"This stance is likely to put the region in further danger than it is today."

US Secretary of State Pompeo said on Monday that the US will apply "unprecedented financial pressure" on Iran with the "strongest sanctions in history" if Tehran does not change course on its missile programme and regional interference.

Iran has scorned Washington's threats to tighten sanctions, with a senior military commander hitting back and saying that the Islamic Republic's people would "punch" Pompeo "in the mouth".

Tensions between Tehran and Washington continue after President Donald Trump announced the  US withdrawal from a nuclear deal with Tehran, which sought to curb Iran's nuclear weapons programme in exchange for lifting of economic sanctions.

The president has long trashed the deal - negotiated under his predecessor Barack Obama - together with the UK, China, France, Germany and Russia, saying it did not do enough to curtail Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

The Republican leader also said it did not go far enough in restricting Iran's ballistic missile programme, or its intervention in regional conflicts from Yemen to Iraq and Syria.

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