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Iran foreign minister: U.S. "cannot expect to stay safe" after sanctions

Maas (L) with Zarif. Photo: Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif issued a vague threat today, declaring that the U.S. "cannot expect to stay safe" after starting an “economic war” with Tehran.

Context: Zarif’s remarks came during a visit from his German counterpart, Heiko Maas, who called U.S.-Iran tensions “highly explosive and extremely serious.” Zarif also said Iran would continue to work with Europe to save the 2015 nuclear deal.

  • Iran is furious that economic benefits promised under the deal have been wiped out by U.S. sanctions. Maas said Europe couldn't perform "miracles,” but would do its best. He said the “special purpose vehicle” designed to facilitate transactions would be ready “in the foreseeable future.”
  • Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, meanwhile, is expected to arrive in Tehran on Wednesday on a tensions-reduction mission that's supported by Trump.
  • Qatar is also attempting to mediate between Washington and Tehran. The Gulf state’s foreign minister called yesterday for “compromises by both parties.”

What to watch: The IAEA nuclear watchdog said today that Iran was increasing its production of enriched uranium. Tehran has said it won't observe restrictions on enrichment after July 7 absent a breakthrough.