Supreme Leader speaks in Mashhad for Iranian New Year, Mashhad, Iran, March 21, 2019

France has chided Iran’s regime that the 2015 nuclear deal is not a blank check for Tehran’s human rights violations.

Addressing lawmakers on Thursday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian noted the additional 26-year sentence imposed on political prisoner and human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh this month.

“There has been global indignation over the case of Mrs Sotoudeh and this government shares this indignation fully,” Le Drian said.

Sotoudeh, a political prisoner from 2010 to 2013, was arrested again in June 2018 over her representation of women who protested the compulsory wearing of hijab. The 26-year punishment is top of a five-year sentence which Sotoudeh, the recipient of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Human Rights Prize in 2012, is already serving.

See also Iran Daily, March 19: Official Sentence on Human Rights Lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh — 26 Years

Le Drian noted the European Union’s negotiations with Iran to preserve the nuclear deal despite US withdrawal, including an economic link to bypass American sanctions.

We have made considerable efforts with Iran to keep the nuclear accord (signed by Tehran and world powers) despite the American withdrawal. (But) our effort to keep the Vienna accord is not a blank check for Iran and certainly not with regard to human rights, and that’s why France will do everything to secure Mrs Sotoudeh’s freedom.

Talks with Tehran were already in trouble because of the objections of Iranian officials to “humiliating conditions” around the Special Purpose for trade in Iran’s oil and other commodities and goods. Those “conditions” include the European Union’s concern about Iran’s missile development and activities in Europe and the Middle East.

The Supreme Leader has threatened to cut off the negotiations: “We should not tie down the economy of the country to something which is not in our control.”

See also Iran Daily, March 5: Supreme Leader Closes Door on Links with “Vicious” Europe

Khamenei: Western Leaders Are “Savages”

In a message on Thursday for Iranian New Year, Ayatollah Khamenei threatened Iran’s departure from the 2015 nuclear deal with the 5+1 Powers (US, UK, France, Germany, China, and Russia): “The Europeans have practically left the JCPOA, because they have not met their commitments.”

The Supreme Leader said the Special Purpose Vehicle is a “meaningless” measure and “a bitter joke”. He derided the Europeans, saying they “should have stood up to the US after it left the JCPOA [nuclear deal] and should have lifted all sanctions against Iran”.

Khamenei then labelled Western politicians as “savages in the real sense of the word”.

Having declared the New Year one of “Pick-Up of Production”, Khamenei told an audience at the shrine of Imam Reza in Mashhad, “The enemy is engaged in an economic war on us. We must defeat the enemy in this war and, God willing, we will defeat it.”

The Supreme Leader initially mentioned Iran’s economic problems in his New Year statements, but he set this aside as he criticized “unrealistic speculations”:

The enemies of this nation, in addition to what they do in reality, also wage a psychological warfare and make boastful exclamations which should be taken as they are.

I believe the year 1398, with divine grace, will be the year of opportunities, possibilities and opening — not threats.