Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has called on European powers to defy US sanctions on Tehran if the Trump Administration withdraws from the July 2015 nuclear agreement.
In the latest interview in his PR offensive with international media in New York, Zarif told the UK outlets The Guardian and the Financial Times that the Islamic Republic will only adhere to the deal with the 5+1 Powers (US, UK, Germany, France, China, and Russia) if the non-US signatories all remain committed to the deal and defy American sanctions.
Adding to his statements with the Associated Press and Al Jazeera since Wednesday, Zarif repeated his implication that Iran can quickly return to the enrichment of 20% uranium, having given up the production under the agreement, and resume research and development of advanced processes and technology:
Europe should lead….
There are other options and those options will depend on how the rest of the international community deals with the United States
If Europe and Japan and Russia and China decided to go along with the United States, then I think that will be the end of the deal.
But Zarif assured that, even if Iran returned to its pre-deal programs, it would not use them to pursue nuclear weapons.
The Foreign Minister said he expected Donald Trump to carry out recent threats, including in a UN speech last week, to refuse certification of Iranian compliance with the agreement by an October 15 deadline. That would free up Congress, which adopted additional sanctions on Iran in late July, to return to even wider restrictions suspended by the nuclear agreement.
Despite his hostility to the deal, Trump has twice certified Iranian compliance since he became President in January. However, in his UN address he declared the agreement an “embarrassment” to the US as he denounced the “corrupt dictatorship” of the Islamic Republic.
“I think he has made a policy of being unpredictable, and now he is turning that into being unreliable as well,” Zarif said.
The Iranian Government’s strategy has been to say that it wants continued adherence to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, while trying to detach Europe from the US. However, President Hassan Rouhani indicated for the first time in August that Iran would consider withdrawal if Washington left the JCPOA.
Zarif told The Guardian that the European Union countries could avert collapse of the arrangement:
In the 1990s they didn’t just ignore [US sanctions]. Europe, the EU, has legislation on the books that would protect EU businesses and adopt counter-measures against the US if the US went ahead with imposing restrictions. And it has been suggested by many that might be the course of action that Europe wants to take.