News ID: 214779
Published: 0515 GMT May 09, 2018

Leader: Iran will stay in nuclear deal only with firm European guarantees

Leader: Iran will stay in nuclear deal only with firm European guarantees

International Desk

Rouhani says JCPOA can live on if interests protected

EU vows to preserve JCPOA

Russia ‘deeply disappointed’ by decision

China to remain committed to the landmark pact

France says Iran deal 'not dead', US not world’s ‘economic policeman’

Belgian PM calls for expanding economic ties with Iran

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said Wednesday that Iran would quit the landmark 2015 nuclear deal unless European signatories offered solid guarantees that trade relations would continue after the US withdrawal.

Addressing Iran's government in a televised speech, Ayatollah Khamenei said: "We hear that you want to continue the nuclear deal with the three European countries. I don't have confidence in these three countries."

"If you don't succeed in obtaining a definitive guarantee – and I really doubt that you can – at that moment, we cannot continue like this," he said. "If you want to conclude an agreement, obtain real guarantees, otherwise tomorrow they will do the same as the United States."

"The officials are facing a big test: are they going to ensure that the nation's pride will be protected or not? The pride and interests of the nation must be truly secured."

He was speaking a day after President Donald Trump announced the US was withdrawing from the deal, which had curbed Iran's atomic program in exchange for sanctions relief.

Slapping aside more than a decade and a half of diplomacy by Britain, China, France, Germany, Iran, Russia and past US administrations, Trump called for a "new and lasting deal".

The other parties have opposed the move and indicated they wish to work with Tehran to preserve the accord which is known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

He also warned against trusting foreign leaders.

"I said many times from the first day: don't trust America," the Leader said, adding, "I don't trust these three countries," Britain, France and Germany.

"Their words have no value. Today they say one thing and tomorrow another. They have no shame," he said.


‘Silly, cheap’ remarks

Ayatollah Khamenei also said Trump's comments on withdrawing from the JCPOA were "silly and cheap".

He heaped scorn on Trump, saying "You heard last night that the president of America made some silly and superficial cheap remarks. He had maybe more than 10 lies in his comments. He threatened the Establishment and the people, saying I'll do this and that. I tell you on behalf of the Iranian people: You cannot do a damn thing”. 

"This man will turn to dust and his body will become food for snakes and ants," the Leader added. "And the Islamic Republic will still be standing."

Raising the issue of Iran's nuclear work was an excuse to curb the Islamic Republic's regional influence and missile program, Ayatollah Khamenei said. Accepting negotiations on its missiles and regional influence would mean Iran had to make endless concessions, he said.

"We accepted the nuclear deal, but the enmity against the Islamic Republic did not end," he said.

Iran needs to preserve its nuclear program because the country will need 20,000 megawatts of electricity in the next few years, he said.

The Leader said last year that Iran would burn the deal if the US pulled out.


Salvaging deal

Late Tuesday night, President Hassan Rouhani said he’d be sending Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to the countries still in the deal.

Iran hopes the European Union will pass laws to protect European firms from any potential US sanctions. EU officials have suggested they’ll do what they can to salvage the agreement.

“If we achieve the deal’s goals in cooperation with other members of the deal, it will remain in place. ... By exiting the deal, America has officially undermined its commitment to an international accord,” Rouhani said in a televised speech.

 “I have ordered the Foreign Ministry to negotiate with the European countries, China and Russia in coming weeks. If at the end of this short period we conclude that we can fully benefit from the JCPOA with the cooperation of all countries, the deal would remain,” he said.

Rouhani accused Trump of "psychological warfare", saying Iran could resume uranium enrichment "without limit" in response to Trump's announcement, but that it would discuss its response with other parties to the deal before announcing a decision.

“So if necessary, we can begin our industrial enrichment without any limitations,” the Iranian president said. “Until implementation of this decision, we will wait for some weeks and will talk with our friends and allies and other signatories of the nuclear deal, who signed it and who will remain loyal to it. Everything depends on our national interests.”


Wednesday morning, Iranian lawmakers burned a piece of paper representing the nuclear deal and stomped on the papers’ ashes.

In a statement they called for “proportional and reciprocal” action by the government in response to Trump’s exit.


Resumption of nuclear program

Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said responsibility for saving the deal fell on the EU and other world powers still in the accord.

“The period is only a window in which the EU can prove if it has enough weight for settling down international issues or not?” he said.

Larijani also urged the country’s nuclear department to prepare for “resumption of all aspects of nuclear activities.”

 He said Trump is not fit for his job and that he “does not have the mental capacity to deal with issues,”

“Trump’s abandoning of the nuclear deal was a diplomatic show...Iran has no obligation to honor its commitments under the current situation,” Larijani said. “It is obvious that Trump only understands the language of force.”


Deal not dead

Trump said he would reimpose economic sanctions on Tehran immediately. His decision puts pressure on his European allies, which are reluctant to join the United States in reimposing sanctions on Iran.

The US Treasury said the United States would reimpose a wide array of Iran-related sanctions after the expiry of 90- and 180-day wind-down periods, including sanctions aimed at Iran’s oil sector and transactions with its central bank.

European powers scrambled Wednesday to save the landmark deal after Trump sparked an international outcry by ditching the accord.

Foreign ministers of France, Britain and Germany will meet with Iranian representatives next Monday "to consider the entire situation," France's Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told RTL radio.

Le Drian said the Iran deal was not dead, adding that European powers would "try to preserve" the economic benefits Iran has gained from the lifting of sanctions under the deal.

“The deal is not dead. There’s an American withdrawal from the deal but the deal is still there,” he said.

“The region deserves better than further destabilization provoked by American withdrawal. So we want to adhere to it and see to it that Iran does too, that Iran behaves with restraint.”

Le Drian said that regular reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency had showed Iran was complying with the agreement.

In separate comments, French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said that it was "not acceptable" for the US to be the "economic policeman of the planet".

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas vowed to work to preserve the Iran nuclear deal and prevent an “uncontrolled escalation” of tensions in the Middle East.

Heiko Maas said Wednesday that “the agreement is working.”  Maas said it isn’t in Iran’s interests to jeopardize the opportunities created by the nuclear deal. He said “a cool head” will be needed in the coming days as the next steps are discussed.

He added: “We will also have to analyze what consequences the United States’ withdrawal will have for European companies and how we in Europe can react to them together.”


Expanding economic relations

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said that instead of scuttling the nuclear deal with Iran, as the United States has done, others should consider expanding economic relations instead, to promote peace and good relations.

Michel told VRT network on Wednesday that at a European Union summit next week, the 28 leaders need to throw their full weight behind the agreement, “but perhaps also to expand the deal.”

Michel said that “together with our partners in the world we must see perhaps whether to develop an economic element.” He added that “we can promote stability in the region by reinforcing our economic exchanges.”

In a joint statement, Germany's Angela Merkel, Britain's Theresa May and France's Macron voiced their "regret and concern" at Trump's decision.

European firms doing business in Iran now have a six month deadline to wind up investments, or risk US sanctions, Trump's advisor John Bolton said.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Washington was acting "under both our primary and secondary sanctions authorities".

That meant that European firms with investments or operations in the United States could be targeted if they continue to trade with Iran.

Plans are already being drawn up in Brussels to introduce measures blocking US sanctions – an extremely rare move against an allied government.


EU ‘determined’

While Iran's arch foes in Israel and Saudi Arabia welcomed Trump's decision, signatories to the existing deal vowed to plough ahead without the US.

The European Union's chief diplomat Federica Mogherini, who helped oversee the accord, insisted it was "delivering on its goal which is guaranteeing that Iran doesn't develop nuclear weapons."

"The European Union is determined to preserve it," she added.

Elsewhere, Russia's Foreign Ministry said it was "deeply disappointed" by the decision.

China expressed regret over Trump’s decision, saying it remains committed to the landmark pact.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters Wednesday that “ensuring the integrity and sanctity” of the agreement was important for upholding the international nonproliferation regime and promoting peace and stability in the Middle East.

And a spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Ibrahim Kalin, warned on Twitter that Trump's move "will cause instability and new conflicts".

But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu strongly supported the move.

"Israel fully supports President Trump's bold decision today to reject the disastrous nuclear deal," Netanyahu said in a televised address.

AFP, AP, Reuters and Press TV contributed to this story.

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