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  • Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during the annual Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany Feb. 17, 2019.

    Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during the annual Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany Feb. 17, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 17 February 2019

In his speech to the Munich Security Conference, Iran's prime minister says Israel and the U.S. want to destabilize the region.

Iran's foreign minister told attendees of the Munich Security Conference (MSC) that Israel is “looking for war” and that the United States is “putting international law on the shelf.”

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While addressing the over 450 high-ranking world leaders at the annual event in Munich Sunday, Mohammad Javad Zarif went on to criticize U.S. Vice President Mike Pence for urging their mutual European partners to follow suit with the U.S. in pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal signed by former President Barack Obama and abandoned by Trump in 2018.

Zarif asked leaders of France, Germany and Britain, all original members of the deal, to do more to save the accord, which requires Iran to reduce its number of atomic centrifuges and enriched uranium stockpile to 3.67 percent of its 2015 amounts. This, in exchange for loosened economic and oil sanctions which have been continually expanded since the Iranian revolution in 1979.

Accusing Israel of violating international law after bombing campaigns in Syria, Zarif told the audience: "Certainly, some people are looking for war ... Israel."

The foreign minister added: "The risk (of war) is great. The risk will be even greater if you continue to turn a blind eye to severe violations of international law," Zarif warned the hundreds of state and international organization leaders present at the two-day conference.

Zarif criticized European powers for not calling out Israel and the United States for their behavior in the region.

"Israeli behavior is putting international law on the shelf, U.S. behavior is putting international law on the shelf," he said.

Speaking the same day, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Iran for destabilizing Middle Eastern and Arab countries.

Netanyahu told the media: "We must deny Iran nuclear weaponry and block its military entrenchment in Syria. We will continue taking constant action to ensure Israel's security."

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Vice-President Pence Friday accused Iran of Nazi-like anti-Semitism, maintaining his harsh rhetoric against Tehran just a day after he attacked European powers for trying to undermine U.S. sanctions on the country.

Zarif said the U.S. had an "unhealthy" and "pathological obsession" with Iran and accused Pence of trying to bully his allies.

"All in the name of containing Iran, the U.S. claims, and some blindly parrot, that it is Iran that is interfering in the region, but has it been asked whose region?" Zarif said.

"Look at the map, the U.S. military has traveled 10,000 kilometers to dot all our borders with its bases. There is a joke that it is Iran that put itself in the middle of U.S. bases."

Zarif, who said Iran was committed to the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers for now, also accused France, Britain and Germany of not doing enough to ensure Tehran received the economic benefits of that accord. These countries opposed Trump's move to leave the pact last year.

For his part at the conference, Pence proclaimed that "the United States expects every NATO member to put in place a credible plan to meet the 2 percent threshold. And, by 2024, we expect all our allies to invest 20 percent of defense spending on procurement."

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