France, U.S. ‘determined’ to up pressure on Iran over ballistic weapons

Introduction — Dec 19, 2017

Iran's Sejil-2 missile, which has a range of 2,000 kilometres

Iran’s Sejil-2 missile, which has a range of 2,000 kilometres

Despite repeated veiled threats of “all options” being open to deal with Iran, the West has avoided direct military confrontation. This was largely because Tehran’s missiles effectively acted as a deterrent.
As a result the West and its allies resorted to the use of proxies in the form of Sunni militants, like Islamic State (also known as Daesh, ISIS or ISIL).
Generously funded by the West’s allies in the gulf states they were unleashed in an effort to oust Syrian President Assad and open up a new front on Iran’s flank.
With Russian help that also failed. So now the West is back to square one with demands that Iran curb its missile development program.
The West hasn’t voiced similar concerns over Israel’s missiles, or India’s or even Pakistan’s. Although al three are nuclear armed, though Israel has never acknowledged its nuclear arsenal, and all three have a missile capability that’s equal to or greater than Iran’s.
So why has the West singled out Iran? Especially after an Israeli professor and military historian hinted that Israel could avenge the holocaust by striking European capitals.
Could renewed pressure over Iran’s missile development really be intended to remove a major obstacle to regime change in Tehran?

France, U.S. ‘determined’ to up pressure on Iran over ballistic weapons

John Irish — Reuters Dec 19, 2017

France and the United States are determined to “vigorously” raise pressure on Iran over its ballistic missile programme, including possibly through sanctions, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said during a visit to Washington.

Le Drian was in the American capital on Monday to meet U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster and U.S. President Donald Trump’s special adviser Jared Kushner.

Tensions between Iran and France have risen in recent months with both sides repeatedly trading barbs in public, including le Drian accusing Iran of “hegemonic temptations” in the region.

Iran on Sunday criticised President Emmanuel Macron over his tough stance toward Tehran and said Paris would soon lose its international credibility if it “blindly follows” U.S. President Donald Trump.

“They didn’t like the word, but I stand by it,” le Drian told reporters. “Iran’s hegemonic temptations in the region is a matter of urgency because it’s within the framework of getting peace in Iraq and Syria that we will stop this process.”

Iranian officials have been particularly aggrieved by France’s criticism of its ballistic missile tests and suggestions of possible new sanctions over the programme, which Tehran calls solely defensive in nature.

Le Drian, who is due in Iran at the beginning of January, said he would tell them clearly of Paris’ concerns.

“We are fully determined to press very vigorously on Iran to stop the development of an increasingly significant ballistic capability”,” Le Drian said, reiterating that sanctions were possible.

Macron, unlike Trump, has reaffirmed his country’s commitment to the deal Iran signed in 2015 with world powers under which it curbed its disputed nuclear programme in exchange for the lifting of most international sanctions.

After talks with the U.S. officials, Le Drian said he believed that Washington was beginning to understand European messages on the need to maintain the accord.

(Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)