EghtesadOnline: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday the United States would regret any decision to leave Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and Tehran would fiercely resist U.S. pressure to limit its influence in the Middle East.
U.S. President Donald Trump, a long-time critic of the deal reached between Iran and six powers in 2015 before he took office, has threatened to pull out by not extending sanctions waivers when they expire on May 12, unless European signatories of the accord fix what he calls its “flaws”.
“If they want to make sure that we are not after a nuclear bomb, we have said repeatedly that we are not and we will not be,” Rouhani, who engineered the nuclear accord to ease Iran’s isolation, said in a speech broadcast live on state television.
“But if they want to weaken Iran and limit its influence whether in the region or globally, Iran will fiercely resist.”
Under the agreement with the United States, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China, Iran strictly limited uranium enrichment capacity to satisfy the powers that it could not be used to develop atomic bombs. In exchange, Iran received relief from sanctions, most of which were rescinded in January 2016, according to Reuters.
Britain, France and Germany remain committed to the nuclear accord and, in an effort to keep Washington in it, want to open talks on Iran’s ballistic missile program, its nuclear activities beyond 2025 - when key provisions of the deal expire - and its role in the wars in Syria and Yemen.
Iran’s clerical rulers have repeatedly ruled out reducing its sway across the region, as demanded by the United States and its European allies. Tehran says its missile capabilities are purely defensive and nuclear ambitions only civilian in nature.
ROUHANI UNDER PRESSURE
Any annulment of the accord could tip the balance of power in favor of hardliners looking to constrain the relatively moderate Rouhani’s ability to open up to the West.
Rouhani said the Islamic Republic had been preparing for every possible scenario, including a deal without the United States - which would still include European signatories, China and Russia - or no deal at all.
“We are not worried about America’s cruel decisions...We are prepared for all scenarios and no change will occur in our lives next week,” he said. “If we can get what we want from a deal without America, then Iran will continue to remain committed to the deal. But if not, Tehran will continue its own path.”
Iran has warned that it would ramp up its nuclear activities if the accord collapses to achieve a more advanced level than before 2015.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned that Tehran’s “fierce reaction to a violation of the nuclear deal with major powers will not be pleasant for America”, state TV reported.
“There has been no new agreement between Iran and the Europeans over the deal...Iran will not be the first to violate the agreement,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi told a weekly news conference, TV reported.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson appealed to Trump not to end the agreement. “It has weaknesses, certainly, but I am convinced they can be remedied,” Johnson wrote in an opinion piece for the New York Times.
“Indeed at this moment Britain is working alongside the Trump administration and our French and German allies to ensure that they are,” said Johnson, who began a two-day visit to the United States on Sunday.
The foreign secretary said he saw no advantage in losing the “handcuffs” the deal imposed on Iran’s nuclear aspirations and only Tehran would benefit from exiting it.
“I believe that keeping the deal’s constraints on Iran’s nuclear program will also help counter Tehran’s aggressive regional behavior. I am sure of one thing: every available alternative is worse. The wisest course would be to improve the handcuffs rather than break them.”