Jean-Yves Le Drian said Iran was building up its nuclear weapons’ capacity, stressing the Tehran and Washington return to 2015’s landmark Joint Plan of Comprehensive Action deal which US President Donald Trump pulled out of in 2018. However, Mr Zarif hit back in a scathing tweet into which he tagged the Frenchman’s handle, @JY_LeDrian.
He posted: “Dear colleague: You kick-started your cabinet career with arms sales to Saudi war criminals. Avoid absurd nonsense about Iran.
“Reality check: YOU are destabilising OUR region. Stop protecting criminals who chainsaw their critics and use YOUR arms to slaughter children in Yemen.”
His words were a reference to Mr Macron’s support of Saudi Arabia’s actions in Yemen, including the sale of weapons to Riyadh.
Iran, which has consistently denied any intention of developing nuclear weapons, also rejected a statement on Saturday by France, Germany and the UK which warned the Islamic Republic against starting work on uranium metal-based fuel for a research reactor, saying it violated the nuclear pact and had serious military implications.
Mr Zarif’s tweet added: “E3 leaders – who rely on (the) signature of OFAC functionaries to carry out their obligations under JCPOA (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) -have done ZILCH to maintain JCPOA (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action).
“Remember @EmmanuelMacron’s stillborn initiative or UK non-payment of court-ordered debt? JCPOA is alive because of Iran and not E3.”
In the event that the JPOCA could be resurrected, Mr Le Drian said that “tough discussions will be needed over ballistic proliferation and Iran’s destabilisation of its neighbours in the region.”
US President-elect Joe Biden, who takes office on Jan. 20, has pledged to return the United States to the deal “if Iran resumes strict compliance” with the agreement that imposed strict curbs on its nuclear activities in return for the lifting of sanctions.
In reaction to Trump’s “maximum pressure” policy, Iran has since breached many of the deal’s restrictions.
But it also regime insists such steps could quickly be reversed if Washington first lifts its sanctions.
Last week widespread reports suggested Iran has deployed so-called “suicide drones” in Yemen, potentially putting Israel in range.
Iran – led by President Hassan Rouhani and Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei – has vowed revenge after the assassination of nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, pointing the finger at Mossad acting on the orders of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
An insider told Newsweek: “The Iranians have delivered to their Houthi proxies in Yemen advanced UAVs.
“They are forward deploying or prepositioning these drones in order to stage an attack against a variety of targets they have within range.”
The unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, have a range of approximately 1,240 to 1,370 miles, covering much of the Middle East, including not just Israel but also Saudi Arabia.