Iran’s FM Decries U.S. ‘Coercion’

DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) -
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) verified that Iran has met all conditions under the nuclear deal, in Vienna January 16, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (C) shakes hands with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif after the IAEA verified that Iran has met all conditions under the nuclear deal, in Vienna, Jan. 16. (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

Iran’s foreign minister is decrying new U.S. sanctions over Iran’s ballistic missile testing, calling them an example of an American “addiction to coercion.”

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, speaking Wednesday to The Associated Press, called the ballistic program legitimate self-defense and said the prospect of restoring bilateral diplomatic relations is “far away” despite the recent landmark nuclear deal.

He spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos before taking part in a debate focusing on the Islamic Republic.

The United States on Sunday imposed sanctions against 11 individuals and entities involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program as a result of Tehran’s firing of a medium-range ballistic missile, a new punishment one day after the Obama administration lifted economic penalties against Iran over its nuclear program.

“We believe these sanctions are uncalled for. We believe the sanctions are illegal. They violate basic principles. The Iranian missile program is a legitimate defense program” and allowed under the landmark nuclear deal, Zarif said.

“It shows that the United States has an addiction which has been very difficult for it to overcome,” he said, specifying, “its addiction to pressure, addiction to coercion, addiction to sanctions.”

Asked about conservative voices within Iran, Zarif said, “Iran is not a monolith, I think Americans would recognize that … just like the United States is not. So you have a difference of views among various political actors, among various parts of the population.”

Despite lingering tensions between Iran and the United States over the nuclear deal, “the United States can take steps to overcome this mistrust,” Zarif said, such as through implementation of the nuclear agreement.

Zarif spoke in a hotel room at the glamorous Intercontinental hotel, where U.S. Vice President Joe Biden was also holding meetings. The minister said they had no plans to meet.