The Latest: Iran vows to respond if US gives up on nuke deal
MUNICH (AP) — The Latest from the Munich Security Conference (all times local):
Iran’s foreign minister is rejecting the idea that Tehran wouldn’t respond if the United States gives up on the 2015 nuclear accord with world powers.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, an opponent of the deal, said Sunday that if the U.S. refuses to keep approving the deal “I think they’ll do nothing.”
But Iran’s Mohammad Javad Zarif told the Munich Security Conference that was “delusional thinking.”
He said: “I can assure that if Iran’s interests are not secured, Iran will respond, will respond seriously and I believe it would be a response that means people would be sorry for taking the erroneous action they did.”
Zarif said that “we will not be the first ones to violate” the agreement.
Iran’s foreign minister is dismissing as a “cartoonish circus” accusations by Israel’s prime minister that his country has become increasingly aggressive and sent a drone into Israeli airspace.
Mohammad Javad Zarif took the stage Sunday at the Munich Security Conference a few hours after Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu held up what he said was a fragment of the drone and challenged Zarif to recognize it.
Zarif told the gathering: “You were the audience for a cartoonish circus just this morning which does not even deserve the dignity of a response.”
Zarif denounced what he said were Israel’s “almost daily illegal incursions into Syrian airspace.” He said Israel was trying “to create these cartoonish images to blame others for its own strategic blunders, or maybe to evade the domestic crisis they’re facing.”
Lebanese Defense Minister Yaacoub Sarraf says his country is prepared to defend itself if Israel launches strikes on its territory.
The comments came Sunday after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country had shot down an Iranian drone in its airspace, and would “act if necessary” against Iran and its proxies, such as the Lebanese militia Hezbollah.
Sarraf told participants at the Munich Security Conference he’d had “an Israeli drone above my head for the past 15 years” but that his country has “no belligerent intent” against anyone.
But he says “we will defend ourselves” and that “we are for peace, yet we will not stand for any threat and we will not accept any aggression. ”
Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says it is “absolutely critical” to make sure that world powers’ nuclear agreement with Iran survives.
President Donald Trump is deeply skeptical about the 2015 nuclear deal. He extended sanctions waivers in January but said he would not do so again when they come up for renewal in May unless his concerns are addressed.
Kerry, one of the leading negotiators on the deal, told the Munich Security Conference on Sunday that “this is untenable. It is not good diplomacy.”
He added: “I believe it is absolutely critical for Europe, for the world, to make sure we hold on to this agreement. Because to go backward — we know what the world looks like without the Iran nuclear agreement. It’s not a better place.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that Israel “will never allow the rewriting of the historical truth” about the Holocaust — a statement that comes as tensions between Israel and Poland over the issue flare anew.
Israeli politicians accused Poland’s prime minister of anti-Semitism for equating Polish perpetrators in the Holocaust to supposed “Jewish perpetrators.” Poland and Israel were already at odds over a new Polish law criminalizing some statements about the country’s actions during World War II.
Speaking Sunday at the Munich Security Conference, where Poland’s Mateusz Morawiecki made his comment a day earlier, Netanyahu remembered the 6 million Jews “killed by the Nazis and their collaborators.”
He added: “We will never forget and we will never allow the rewriting of the historical truth.”
A spokeswoman for Poland’s prime minister has sought to downplay his words equating Polish collaborators in the Holocaust to alleged “Jewish perpetrators” by saying they were an invitation to a frank debate about the World War II crimes against Jews.
Israeli politicians have accused Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki of anti-Semitism following his remarks Saturday at the Munich Security Conference, setting off a new chapter in an angry dispute over Poland’s new law banning some Holocaust speech.
Morawiecki spokeswoman Joanna Kopcinska said Sunday that his words “should be interpreted as a sincere call for open discussion of crimes committed against Jews during the Holocaust, regardless of the nationality of those involved.”
The statement in Polish and English said Morawiecki’s comments were “by no means intended to deny the Holocaust.”
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says an international agreement with Iran has emboldened the regime in Tehran to become increasingly aggressive in the region.
Netanyahu told world leaders, defense officials and diplomats at the Munich Security Conference on Sunday the agreement has “unleashed a dangerous Iranian tiger in our region and beyond.”
Saying Iran’s “brazenness hit new highs,” he held up a fragment of what he said was an Iranian drone shot down last week by Israel in Israeli airspace and challenged Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who was to speak later.
Netanyahu said “Mr. Zarif do you recognize this? You should, it’s yours. You can take back with you a message to the tyrants of Tehran — do not test Israel’s resolve!”
Tehran says it wasn’t Iran’s drone.