FILE - Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif gestures during a press conference in Tehran, Feb. 13, 2019.
FILE - Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif gestures during a press conference in Tehran, Feb. 13, 2019.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Wednesday European powers were incapable of bypassing sanctions imposed on Tehran by the U.S. after it withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal. 
 
Iran and six world powers agreed on a deal in 2015 that severely restricted Tehran's nuclear activities in return for sanctions relief and economic incentives. 
 
However, President Donald Trump withdrew Washington from the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), last May, reimposing punishing sanctions on the Islamic republic. 

U.S. President Donald Trump holds up a proclamatio
FILE - U.S. President Donald Trump holds up a proclamation declaring his intention to withdraw from the JCPOA Iran nuclear agreement after signing it in the Diplomatic Room at the White House in Washington, May 8, 2018.

The other parties to the nuclear deal — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, plus the European Union — insist they remain committed to making it work. 

Europe 'cannot shy away'
 
"The Europeans at first viewed the JCPOA as an achievement, but maybe they were not prepared to, and certainly they were not capable of standing up against U.S sanctions," Zarif said in an interview with Khamenei.ir, the official website of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. 
 
"We will continue pressing the Europeans to implement their commitments. Europe must know that they cannot shy away from their responsibilities with a few statements and some unaccomplished plans," he added. 
 
Zarif, who was his country's chief negotiator in the talks that led to the deal, said that Iran would continue to pressure the Europeans to act on their obligations within the deal but added that "we never had any hopes" in them. 
 
Instead of the Western powers, the Islamic republic has turned to its traditional partners such as Russia and China, Zarif said, adding "the future of our foreign policy lies in that way."