Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday denounced six new European members of a barter mechanism with Iran, saying it encouraged Tehran’s repression of protests.
“While the Iranian regime is killing its own people, European countries rush to support that very murderous regime,” the embattled leader said in a statement.
“These European countries should be ashamed of themselves.”
The remarks came after Paris, London and Berlin on Saturday welcomed six new European countries to the INSTEX barter mechanism, which is designed to circumvent US sanctions against trade with Iran by avoiding use of the dollar.
“As founding shareholders of the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX), France, Germany and the United Kingdom warmly welcome the decision taken by the governments of Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden, to join INSTEX as shareholders,” the three said in a joint statement.
The Paris-based INSTEX functions as a clearing house allowing Iran to continue to sell oil and import other products or services in exchange.
The system has not yet enabled any transactions.
Washington in 2018 unilaterally withdrew from the international agreement governing Iran’s nuclear programme and reinstated heavy sanctions against Tehran.
The accession of the six new members “further strengthens INSTEX and demonstrates European efforts to facilitate legitimate trade between Europe and Iran”, France, Germany and Britain said.
It represents “a clear expression of our continuing commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” – the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal – the trio added.
They insisted Iran must return to full compliance with its commitments under the deal “without delay”.
“We remain fully committed to pursuing our efforts towards a diplomatic resolution within the framework of the JCPoA.”
The 2015 deal set out the terms under which Iran would restrict its nuclear programme to civilian use in exchange for the lifting of Western sanctions.
Since the US pullout, Iran has taken four steps back from the accord.
Meanwhile, protests broke out across sanctions-hit Iran on 15 November, hours after a sharp fuel price hike was announced.
Reports of deaths and arrests emerged as security forces were deployed to rein in demonstrations which turned violent in some areas, with dozens of banks, petrol garages and police stations torched.
London-based human rights group Amnesty International has said 161 demonstrators were killed.
An English-language statement from the Israeli foreign ministry on Sunday said “Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden could not have picked worse timing.
“The hundreds of innocent Iranians murdered during the latest round of protests are rolling in their graves.”
“We ask these European countries – what message are you sending to the Iranian people?” the foreign ministry statement said.
“Would it not be more effective and ethical to designate the regime officials responsible for the murder of innocent civilians?”
Meanwhile, diplomats from Iran and other remaining parties to the deal – the UK, France, Germany, China and Russia – will gather in Vienna on Friday to discuss ways forward for the crumbling deal.
Since May, Iran has taken a series of measures breaking limits on its nuclear activities laid down in the deal, including on the amount and the enrichment level of its uranium stockpile.
Iran insists it has the right to do this in retaliation for the US’ withdrawal from the deal in 2018 and subsequent re-imposition of sanctions, which have placed huge strain on the Iranian economy.
Iran has said another step away from the deal is likely in early January, with some speculation that it could announce that is increasing its uranium enrichment level yet further.
This article has been adapted from its original source.