World Bulletin / News Desk
"We believe that all the anti-Iranian sanctions will not contribute to dialogue. On the contrary, they will help strengthen the positions of conservatives in Iran, weakening Rouhani, who wanted to be engaged in a dialogue," Jean-Yves Le Drian told France Inter radio, referring to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
"Finally, this [U.S.] stance could result in additional risks in the region," he added.
France's top diplomat said Europe opposes the U.S. sanctions and will create a mechanism to bypass the restrictions imposed by Washington.
Le Drian's comments come two days after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington would impose "the strongest sanctions in history" if Iran fails to comply with the terms of a new deal to replace the landmark 2015 agreement between Tehran and the P5+1 group of nations (the UN Security Council’s five permanent members plus Germany).
On May 8, U.S. President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of the deal and announced the re-imposition of sanctions.
Le Drian went on to warn of a "regional explosion" due to the ongoing Syrian war and the Iranian nuclear crisis. Asked if there was a risk of a new conflict, he replied, "Yes".
"The conditions are all there so that if by chance something happened, perhaps on purpose, perhaps not, there could be an escalation," he said, referring to rockets fired from "Iranian arms based in Syria" on May 10 on the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
Commenting on Russia’s call for foreign forces to pull out of Syria, Le Drian said he hopes to get clarification on the forces of which countries were meant.
"It is vague and requires explanations. The peace process is blocked, Russia has no interest in the deterioration of the situation. It has its own terrorist risk," he said.
On Thursday French President Macron is set to pay a two-day official visit to St. Petersburg at the invitation of his Russian counterpart.