Mon, Jan 08, 2018 - Page 4 News List

US convocation of Security Council a ‘blunder,’ Iran says

AFP, TEHRAN

Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif on Saturday ridiculed US President Donald Trump over what he called the foreign policy “blunder” of trying to raise the past weeks’ protests in Iran at the UN Security Council.

The Security Council “rebuffed the US’ naked attempt to hijack its mandate,” Zarif wrote on Twitter. “Majority emphasized the need to fully implement the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal] and to refrain from interfering in internal affairs of others. Another FP [foreign policy] blunder for the Trump administration.”

It came as Iranian Legislator Mahmoud Sadeghi said that about 90 students had been arrested in Tehran during last week’s unrest.

“According to the figures and information obtained by officials at the Ministry of Higher Education, the majority of those arrested were basically not involved in the protests and most were arrested outside the university,” Sadeghi, an outspoken member of parliament, told the reformist Iranian Labor News Agency. “Some were arrested in front of the doors of their houses.”

Saturday saw the fourth straight day of pro-government rallies in smaller cities as the regime sought to emphasize the end of five days of unrest that claimed 21 lives and saw hundreds arrested around the country.

The demonstrations began on Dec. 28 as protests over economic hardship and quickly turned against the regime as a whole.

Protests in Tehran were focused around the university, but were relatively small compared to those in other towns and cities, with only a few hundred taking part.

A police spokesman said that most of those arrested “had been duped” into joining the protests and had now been freed under caution, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency.

“However, the leaders of the troubles are in the hands of the judiciary and in prison,” the agency quoted him as adding.

At the UN, Washington saw allies and rivals push back against the Security Council meeting it had called to discuss the unrest in Iran.

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said that the unrest could escalate into full-blown conflict and drew a comparison with Syria.

Iran in 2015 signed the JCPOA with the US, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, easing sanctions in exchange for curbs to the country’s nuclear program.

Trump has fiercely opposed the deal, but the other signatories remain firmly behind it.

Trump has to decide every few months whether to continue waiving nuclear sanctions, with the next deadline due on Friday.

Analysts have said he could use the latest unrest as a pretext to reimpose sanctions.

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