President Hassan Rouhani has again warned the US against withdrawal from the July 2015 deal over Iran’s nuclear program, this time in a speech in New York.
Rouhani repeated Tehran’s line to Iranian expatriates on Sunday, on the eve of his appearance at the UN General Assembly session:
We will never initiate a violation of the international agreement, but if the other side wishes to assault the rights of the Iranian people, Iran will certainly give the due response….
Withdrawing from the JCPOA, [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] would mean trampling on a clear political obligation that a government has. This is nothing to be proud of.
Since the January 2016 implementation of the agreement between Iran and the 5+1 Powers (US, UK, France, Germany, China, and Russia), the US has maintained sanctions that have restricted the Rouhani Government’s pursuit of economic recovery. Trade and investment links, particularly with European companies, have been limited by the fear of American punishment.
Iran’s concern has risen since the US Congress adopted new sanctions in late July, citing the Islamic Republic’s testing of ballistic missiles, alleged support of “terrorism” in areas such as the Middle East, and human rights record.
Rouhani, who has staunchly defended the JCPOA, shifted his position to say that Iran might withdraw in response to a US departure. However, Tehran’s emphasis has been on trying to separate other countries, particularly members of the European Union, from Washington.
The Trump Administration has declared that it is stepping up pressure on Iran; however, it has balked at leaving the JCPOA. Twice Donald Trump has certified Iranian compliance with the terms of the deal, and last week he renewed a waiver on some of the harshest US sanctions.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson maintained the position on Sunday in a TV interview. He acknowledged Iranian “technical compliance” while asserting that other actions by Tehran had violated the “preamble” of the agreement.
Rouhani tried to emphasize the positive to the Iranian expatriates:
You supported the JCPOA in the United States and today, you can contribute to the Iranian nation’s rights. The main lobby of the Iranian nation in the US is you educated and proud Iranians.