president, Hassan Rouhani, has said his country will not allow Donald Trump to tear up the landmark nuclear agreement with the west as he warned that an extension of sanctions, which passed Congress last week, could be a violation of the deal.
Trump’s victory in the US
presidential elections has raised questions about whether the landmark nuclear accord, signed in July 2015, has a future. Its fate could affect Rouhani’s chances of re-election in May.
“Iran is the only country that, as our supreme leader [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] stated, would neither mourn nor celebrate [Trump’s] coming to power,” Rouhani said on Tuesday at Tehran
University. “We would follow our own path.”
Rouhani said the US president-elect “may wish many things, he may wish to weaken or tear up Barjam,” referring to the Persian acronym for the joint comprehensive plan of action (or the nuclear deal), “but will we and our nation allow such a thing? America cannot influence our path of strength and endurance.”
Iranian leaders have been unusually reserved in their reactions to Trump’s win, refraining from bombastic pronouncements often used to denounce “the Great Satan”.
Some politicians have been reflecting a view that Iran has historically coped better with the Republicans, but others have warned that Tehran should not underestimate Trump given his cabinet appointments so far filled with figures vociferous in their opposition to the country.
A vote last week in the US Senate to extend the Iran sanctions act for another 10 years has particularly infuriated Tehran, initiating a debate in the country about whether it amounted to a violation of the nuclear deal. It passed 99-0 after clearing the House of Representatives in November. Barack Obama is expected to sign the measure into a law, a White House official said, adding that the administration does not believe the extension violates the nuclear deal between major powers and Iran.
Rouhani said on Tuesday that a committee tasked with monitoring the implementation of the deal was reviewing whether the vote was in breach of it. The Iranian president said Tehran would retaliate against the measures if they come to force.
Speaking about Iran’s negotiating partners, the group known as P5+1 – the UN security council’s five permanent members: China
, the United Kingdom
and the United States
, plus Germany
– Rouhani said “some are our friends and we have good relationship with them”, but he said the US was “our enemy, which is putting as much pressure on us as possible”.
The president added: “[The US] may violate and is violating. There are two scenarios in respect to the recent example of extending the Iran sanctions act; if it comes to force it will be a clear and vivid breaching of Barjam, and they will see a harsh reaction from us, and our country is united in its reaction to breaching of the deal.
“Even if the US president signs the extension but waives it, we would still consider it a violation of the deal, and we would react,” he said, without clarifying how serious a violation that would be.
Iran’s foreign minister and its chief nuclear negotiator, Mohammad Javad Zarif, also said at the weekend that the senate vote on the sanctions should Washington was unreliable. “To the world community, the extension of sanctions against Iran shows the unreliability of the American government,” he told the state television on Saturday. “America is acting against its commitment.”
In his speech, Rouhani defended his administration’s efforts in securing the nuclear agreement and said it was only acting on the orders of Khamenei. Hardliners in Iran have been criticising Rouhani about the deal. They say people in Iran have not seen the financial benefits of the agreement.
Rouhani disagreed. “At one point, we were only able to sell 970,000 to one million barrels of oil per day, but now it has reached the level of 2,300,000 barrels per day,” Rouhani said. “Is this good or bad? The country … exports as much as it wants.”
The Iranian president said the removal of nuclear-related sanctions had already borne fruit. “In regards to sanctions, except for banking restrictions, all sanctions have been removed 100%.”