Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani says the US will regret any withdrawal from the July 2015 nuclear deal, days before Donald Trump makes a key decision over the imposition of American sanctions on Tehran.
In a televised speech, Rouhani told an audience in Sabzevar northeast Iran, “If the United States opts to pull out of the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action], you will soon see the historic remorse which the move will bring about.”
Rouhani again declared that Iran is prepared for an effective “response” if Trump fails to extend waivers of Congressional sanctions by a May 12 deadline:
From months ago, the necessary instructions have been issued to the Atomic Energy Organisation and economic sectors; we are ready for any decision about the JCPOA….
Orders have been issued to the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran and a few days ago, I spoke with senior officials of the organization about the programs ahead.
Our path is quite clear. The economic sector has also received the necessary orders
The President did not specify the actions, but other Iranian officials have indicated that Iran would soon resume enrichment of 20% uranium if the waivers on the US sanctions lapse.
Under the JCPOA, the Islamic Republic halted production of 20% uranium — which can be further enriched to military-grade 95% — and gave up all its stocks. Iran also suspended almost all research and development of new nuclear centrifuges.
Rouhani rejected a proposal, pushed by the European Union and European signatories of the deal, for new discussions.
We tell the world explicitly that we will not negotiate our defensive weapons with anyone. It’s none of anybody’s business what decisions we have made for defending ourselves.
The UK, France, and Germany have proposed talks for revision of the JCPOA, such as extension of time limits, and parallel negotiations over Iran’s ballistic missiles program.
Continuing his defiance, Rouhani derided “American and Zionist propaganda against the great and brave nation of Iran which has resisted all along during big and decisive moments”:
This nation is neither afraid nor has any fear from you. This great nation will continue with its progress and development on the side of its officials and the Leadership.
Rouhani Repeats His Challenge to “Highest Level” Over Bans on Communications
The President also repeated his challenge to other regime factions, all the way up to the Supreme Leader, over limits and bans on the Internet and communications.
Last week Rouhani denounced the block of the Telegram messaging application, used by about half of Iran’s 80 million people, by the Supreme Council on Cyberspace and the Culture and Media Prosector’s Office. In a reference to the Supreme Leader, he suggested the order came from officials “at the highest level”.
On Sunday, he asked the audience, “Is it possible to generate employment for young people in today’s world today without cyberspace?”, and implicitly criticized the slowing of the Internet by authorities through filters and restrictions: “We are attempting to take high-speed Internet to all villages; but some enjoy low-speed Internet!”
He linked this to a campaign to eliminate corruption within the regime — and appeared to endorse peaceful protests such as those across Iran in January:
People should be aware of everything and the government must provide them with information….We should be happy with the young generation’s criticism about the affairs of the country. The success of any action depends on people’s support.
Rouhani is likely to face political attack by hardliners if Trump adopts the Congressional sanctions, which will further challenge an already-fragile Iranian economy.