In a notable shift of the Iran Government’s line, President Hassan Rouhani has said that Tehran could withdraw from the July 2015 nuclear deal amid new US sanctions.
Addressing Parliament on Tuesday, Rouhani warned that Iran could return to the enrichment of 20% uranium within days if it believed that the US had effectively scrapped the deal with financial restrictions on the Islamic Republic.
Under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action between Iran and the 5+1 Powers (US, UK, France, Germany, Britain, and China), Tehran suspended its production of 20% uranium — which can potentially be further enriched to the 95% uranium needed for military uses — and gave up all stocks. The deal prevents Iran resuming any production beyond 3.5% uranium for up to 15 years.
Despite Iranian compliance with agreement, certified again by the US last month, Congress passed additional sanctions in late July on the basis of Iran’s ballistic missile tests, alleged support of “terrorism”, and human rights record. Donald Trump signed the measure earlier this month.
Up to Sunday, the Rouhani Government had supported a “proportionate response” to the latest US sanctions but said that it would continue adherence to the JCPOA. But yesterday Rouhani told legislators:
The new U.S. officials should know that the failed experience of sanctions and coercion compelled their previous governments to eventually come to the negotiation table. If they want to try those experiences again, Iran will definitely revert to a far more advanced situation than it had before the negotiations, not in a matter of weeks or months but in a matter of days or hours.
At the same time, Rouhani continued the Iranian efforts to detach European countries from the US by putting blame on Washington for violations of the deal: “It is the U.S. government, especially the current Trump administration, that is ignoring international treaties, showing to the world and its allies that the U.S. is neither a good ally nor a trustworthy negotiating partner.”
The Government has been hindered in its effort for economic recovery, promised after implementation of the deal from January 2016, because of the fears of European companies of US punishment if they renew trade and investment with Iran. The Islamic Republic has had recent breakthroughs with the signature of a $4.8 billion contract with France’s Total for development of the South Pars gas field, and a $600 million agreement with the French automobile manufacturer Renault; however, far more is needed for significant growth after years of sanctions and mismanagement.
Rouhani specifically addressed Donald Trump, indicating that Iran has given up on any hope of progress with the current US Administration:
Those who seek to go back to the language of threats and sanctions are captives of their past self-made delusions. They merely deprive themselves of the benefits of peace by creating antagonism and phobia.
In recent months, the world has clearly witnessed that it is the US, particularly under the presidency of Mr. Trump, which is ignoring this international agreement.