Irani FM says he will visit North Korea


–Zarif says exiting nuclear pact one of ‘many options’ after US sanctions

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says he will visit North Korea as both countries struggle under the United States sanctions.

Iran’s official IRNA news agency on Sunday quoted Mohammad Javad Zarif as saying that the visit is being planned and a date will be announced soon.

The US has ramped up sanctions on Iran since President Donald Trump withdrew from its 2015 nuclear accord with world powers last year.

The US has tightened sanctions on North Korea to try to persuade it to give up its nuclear weapons.

An Iranian parliamentary delegation visited North Korea in December, and North Korea’s top diplomat, Ri Yong Ho, visited Iran in August.

Meanwhle, Zarif said leaving the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is one of the “many options” Tehran has to retaliate against United States sanctions, state media reported on Sunday.

The US has imposed a raft of sanctions against the Islamic republic since President Donald Trump withdrew last year from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal with world powers.

On Monday, Washington announced an end to sanction waivers for buyers of Iranian crude oil, and earlier this month the US declared Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards a “foreign terrorist organisation”.

“The Islamic republic has many options… (leaving) the NPT is one of them,” Zarif said in remarks to Iranian reporters in New York aired by state television.

State news agency IRNA said Zarif was asked why he had not touted leaving the nuclear treaty as one of Iran’s possible reactions during his trip as he had done so previously.

“The country’s officials are deliberating” the different options and measures, Zarif replied, adding that the possibility of leaving the NPT was among those options. He did not list the other options.

Iran has branded the US sanctions “illegal” and Zarif warned on Wednesday that there would be consequences should Iran be barred from selling its oil.

The 2015 Iran nuclear deal with six world powers — Britain, China, France, Russia, the US and Germany — had given the Islamic republic sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme.