Thu, 20 Sep 2018

Iran fumes amid reports of U.S. undermining nuclear deal

By Sheetal Sukhija, Europe News
11 Oct 2017, 01:22 GMT+10

TEHRAN, Iran - With the decision on the future of the Iran nuclear deal looming large, and U.S. President Donald Trump planning on toughening the policy - Iran is growing more hostile towards America, that it now views as an implacable enemy.

On Tuesday, the head of Iran’s nuclear agency warned the United States against undermining the 2015 nuclear deal - pointing out that international nonproliferation efforts, as well as Washington's international standing, would suffer as a result.

Further, the country’s hardliners and pragmatists alike have united in their response to Trump.

Addressing an international conference on enhancing nuclear safety, Iranian nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi said that Washington’s recent “delusionary negative postures do not augur well” for keeping the deal intact.

He further argued that Iran didn’t want to see the deal unravel but that “much more is at stake for the entire international community than the national interests of Iran.”

This week, Trump, who has accused his predecessor Barack Obama of being too soft on Iran, is expected to deliver a speech on Iran, in which he is expected to decline to certify Iran’s compliance in the landmark 2015 agreement.

Trump’s decision to harden the policy and decertifying the landmark deal that lifted international sanctions in return for curbs on Tehran’s nuclear program, would be referred to the Congress.

While it is believed that the U.S. would stop short of pulling out of the agreement, it is also expected to designate Iran’s most powerful security force, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), as a terrorist organization.

Praising the progress that had been made since the 2015 deal, Salehi said nonproliferation and disarmament efforts had benefited worldwide. 

He called it “simply too precious to be allowed to be undermined or weakened.”

He also warned, “The failure of the nuclear deal will undermine the political credibility and international stature of the U.S. in this tumultuous political environment,” and added that he hoped “common sense shall prevail.”

So far, the U.S. administration has faced two 90-day certification deadlines to state whether Iran is meeting the conditions needed to continue enjoying sanctions relief under the deal.

Both the times it has backed away from a showdown - even though Trump has repeatedly said he does not expect to certify Iran’s compliance with the October deadline looming.

Meanwhile, both sides of Iran’s political divide have been united in their response to Trump’s hostilities towards the deal, uniting hardliners who believe the U.S. is as an implacable enemy and pragmatists who seek rapprochement with the West.

Over the last few days, Iran has issued a steady stream of hostile statements.

On Tuesday, Iran threatened to teach the Americans “new lessons” and keep “all options on the table” if Washington blacklists its Revolutionary Guards.

Blacklisting the powerful IRGC in Iran, experts believe, could make it more difficult for Iranian businesses to access the global financial system.

Iranian armed forces spokesman Masoud Jazayeri, who is also a Revolutionary Guards commander, said in a statement, “It seems the Trump administration understands only swear words, and needs some shocks to understand the new meaning of power in the world. The Americans have driven the world crazy by their behaviour. It is time to teach them a new lesson.”

Iranian newspapers quoted Foreign Minister Javad Zarif as saying during a meeting with the commander of the IRGC, Major-General Mohammad Ali Jafari, “We have a similar stance but different ways of saying it.”

Less than five months back, on the back of striking the landmark nuclear deal in 2015, Iran’s moderate president Hasan Rouhani won re-election after a campaign in which he called for better ties with the outside world and reform at home.

Rouhani had also openly criticized the influence of the IRGC which he accused of backing his hardline opponent. 

Ali Akbar Velayati, the top adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was quoted as saying by ISNA,“The Americans are too small to be able to harm the Revolutionary Guards. We have all options on the table. Whatever they do, we will take reciprocal measures.”

Getting increasingly worried, on Monday, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, praised the 2015 deal as a “win-win” solution that was working.

She addressed reporters and said, “We settled a milestone for nonproliferation and we prevented a dangerous devastating military escalation.” 

She further warned that with rising nuclear tensions on the Korean peninsula, “We have an interest and a responsibility and a duty to preserve the nuclear deal with Iran” and strengthening, not weakening the nonproliferation regime.”

Despite the deal, Washington still maintains separate unilateral sanctions over Tehran’s missile program and over allegations it supports terrorism. 

An indicator of the high concerns about Trump’s policy in Iran was that the country’s currency, rial dropped against the U.S. dollar in recent days.

Meanwhile, Iran’s government spokesman Mohammad Baqer Nobakht said in a weekly news conference, “Trump might say some things by the end of the week, but this should not create chaos in the market. Iran is a stable country, and nothing will happen.”

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