Iran’s Rouhani to tour Europe in wake of end to sanctions

Iran’s Rouhani to tour Europe in wake of end to sanctions

Iran’s Rouhani to tour Europe in wake of end to sanctions

AP photo

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will visit Italy and France next week on his first trip to Europe since the lifting of sanctions against his country, a diplomatic source told Reuters on Jan. 18.

The source said Rouhani would be in Italy on Jan. 25-26 and leave for Paris on Jan. 27. On his first day in Italy he will meet the country’s president, prime minister and business leaders. 

He is scheduled to meet Pope Francis on the second day, the source said.

The visits were originally due to take place in November 2015 but were canceled after the attacks by Islamist militants in Paris that killed 130 people.

Meanwhile, Iran denounced new U.S. sanctions on its missile program on Jan. 18 but pushed ahead with international cooperation after its historic nuclear deal.

Washington announced on Jan. 17 that announced it was imposing sanctions on five Iranian nationals and a network of companies based in the United Arab Emirates and China in connection with Iran’s ballistic missile program, the day after the U.N. atomic watchdog confirmed that Iran had complied with the measures imposed by the deal with global powers reached in Vienna in July 2015.

World leaders hailed the implementation of the deal, and the subsequent lifting of European and U.S. sanctions, as a milestone in international diplomacy.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry on Jan. 18 decried the new measures as “illegitimate,” with spokesman Hossein Jaber Ansari insisting the missile program has no links with the nuclear issue.

“Iran’s missile program has never been designed to be capable of carrying nuclear weapons,” Ansari was quoted as saying by the ISNA news agency, according to AFP.  

He said Iran would respond by “accelerating its legal ballistic missile program and boosting defense capabilities.”

Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan said the new sanctions would have “no effect,” telling the Fars news agency: “We will prove it in practice by unveiling new missile achievements.” 

Cooperation on the nuclear program was moving forward, however, with International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano in Tehran for talks with senior officials on Iran’s continued compliance with the deal.

Amano met Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, and was to hold talks with Rouhani to discuss monitoring and verifying Iran’s commitments under the agreement.

“We talked about future cooperation, especially in the new atmosphere, and we partially drew the roadmap” for continued efforts, state television quoted Salehi as saying after the talks.

Rouhani on Jan. 17 said the implementation of the nuclear deal – negotiated with the United States, Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany – had “opened a new chapter” in Iran’s relations with the world.