‘Rogue newcomer’: Rouhani calls Trump’s UN remarks over nuclear deal ‘ignorant & absurd’

‘Rogue newcomer’: Rouhani calls Trump’s UN remarks over nuclear deal ‘ignorant & absurd’
Iran will respond “decisively” to any violation of the 2015 nuclear deal by “any party,” President Hassan Rouhani said in his speech at the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, as he hit back at US President Donald Trump.

US President Donald Trump’s UN speech was a “violation” of the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani told journalists Wednesday, as cited by Reuters. He added that in case the deal collapses, Tehran could return to the high level uranium enrichment that is needed for its reactor fuel.

The leader of the Islamic Republic also said that his country has “various options” it could use to respond in case the US withdraws from the agreement, including resuming enrichment to satisfy the needs of the Iranian atomic energy industry, TASS reported.

Iran will respond “decisively” to any violation of the 2015 nuclear deal by “any party,” President Hassan Rouhani said in his speech at the UN General Assembly earlier on Wednesday, as he hit back at US President Donald Trump.

“I declare before you that the Islamic Republic of Iran will not be the first country to violate the agreement,” the Iranian president said, adding that Tehran “will respond decisively and resolutely to its violation by any party.”

He went on to say that “it will be a great pity if this agreement were to be destroyed by ‘rogue’ newcomers to the world of politics – the world will have lost a great opportunity,” apparently referring to Trump, who earlier called the Iranian nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions” and an “embarrassment” to the US.

Rouhani then warned that “by violating its international commitments, the new US administration only destroys its own credibility,” and once again said that Tehran does not plan to withdraw from the deal and return to nuclear weapons development.

However, in August, Iran’s president warned that Tehran is ready to withdraw from the deal within “not a week or a month but within hours” and return to its nuclear program should Washington impose new restrictions against it.

The Iranian leader then criticized the US president’s Tuesday speech to the General Assembly, calling it “ignorant, absurd and hateful rhetoric filled with ridiculously baseless allegations.”

In his speech, Trump called Iran a “depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos,” saying that it funds “terrorists that kill innocent Muslims and attack their peaceful Arab and Israeli neighbors.”

Last week, Trump hinted that the US might not re-certify Iran’s compliance with the nuclear agreement in October, adding that Tehran “violated the spirit” of the deal.

On Wednesday, the US envoy to the UN, Nikki Haley, downplayed Trump’s statements by saying that the US president’s speech at the UNGA does not mean that the US plans to disown the deal.

At the same time, she said that the White House has “grounds” not to re-certify Iran’s compliance with the agreement in October.

Courtesy, RT

What are Donald Trump’s objections to the Iran nuclear deal?

The US president is threatening to pull the country out of the 2015 Iran nuclear accord. DW examines why Trump is considering dropping the deal and who shares his concerns on Iran.

UN Generalversammlung in New York | Donald Trump, Präsident USA (Getty Images/AFP/T.A. Clary)

The “worst deal ever”: That is how US President Donald Trump describes the 2015 landmark Iran nuclear accord. He repeatedly has signaled that the United States will withdraw from or revise the agreement, a threat he reiterated most recently during Tuesday’s speech at the UN General Assembly. 

Both the US State Department and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that Iran has abided by the agreement, and nuclear non-proliferation experts and other international powers that brokered the deal are pressing the White House to stay in.

So why is the Trump administration against the nuclear accord?

The answer lies with the deal’s alleged weaknesses and, equally important, non-nuclear related issues that the Trump administration would now like to bring onto the negotiating table, such as Iran’s ballistic missile program and the Islamic republic’s expanding influence in the Middle East.

Watch video00:38

Trump slams Iran at United Nations

Read more: Donald Trump and the Iran nuclear deal – a crisis in the making

What does the Iran nuclear deal do?

Under the 2015 deal negotiated between Iran and the P5+1 (US, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany), Tehran agreed to dismantle its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of crushing international sanctions and the unfreezing of billions of dollars in frozen Iranian assets. Under the deal, Iran is permitted to maintain a small amount of nuclear-related activity and uranium stockpiles for research and medicine purposes.

However, the quantities are far below any threshold that would allow the fast and unannounced development of nuclear weapons. In effect, Iran is allowed peaceful nuclear research just as any other country.

Objection: delay but not prevent

At the time of the deal, Western intelligence agencies estimated it would take Iran as little as one year to produce a nuclear weapon. The 2015 accord restricted Iran’s nuclear-related activities for 10 to 15 years. After this period expires, the deal will need to be renegotiated or Iran could theoretically restart its nuclear weapons program.

Iran's Supreme leader Ali Khamenei (Irna)Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has accused Trump of unfair criticism of the country’s nuclear programs

If Iran then were to choose to pursue nuclear weapons, it would start from a lower starting point that would buy time for the international community to respond.

But the Trump administration finds this ‘sunset clause’ —  essentially the accord’s expiration date — to be problematic because it delays, rather than prevents, Iran’s development of a nuclear bomb. The White House’s concerns echo Israel’s, which has argued that the nuclear issue cannot be kicked down the road.

Read more: Ayatollah Khamenei slams US ‘bullying’ on nuclear deal

Objection: covert nuclear activity?

The deal also allows the IAEA inspections regime  to monitor declared nuclear facilities, storage facilities and supply chains.

However, the Trump administration argues that the nuclear accord does not provide access to restricted military sites that could be used for a covert weapons development program. It has demanded that inspectors gain access to these sites, something that Iran has rejected.

Supporters of the deal argue that any covert program would be spotted through existing monitoring provisions of existing facilities and supply chains.

Objection: ballistic missiles

The wording of UN resolution authorizing the nuclear deal is vague on ballistic missiles. It “calls upon” — but does not require —Iran not to carry out work “related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.”

Iran says its ballistic missiles are conventional weapons that are not “designed to” carry nuclear warheads even if they are “capable of” delivering them. Since Iran is not pursuing nuclear weapons, Tehran argues, the UN resolution does not apply to its ballistic missile program.

But the Trump administration argues that the missile program violates the nature of the deal and views it as a threat to US Gulf Arab allies and Israel. The US has slapped a number of sanctions on Iranover the program, causing Tehran in turn to accuse the US of going against the spirit of the accord.

Iran makes missiles tests (picture-alliance/dpa/Defence Ministry Iran)Iran launches a ballistic missile at an undisclosed location in March 2016

Objection: funds for ‘destabilizing activities’

Under the nuclear deal, a good chuck of Iran’s internationally frozen assets, valuing some $100 billion, were released. The Trump administration argues that is bad because this money can be used to fund Iran’s “destabilizing activities” in the Middle East and support of terrorist groups.

US grievances include Iran’s hostility to Israel, its engagement in Syria and Iraq, and the Islamic Republic’s wide regional support for various Shiite militant groups including Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthi rebels in Yemen, as well as for Hamas, the militant Islamist organization in the Gaza Strip.

Furthermore, Washington and Israel are concerned that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a security and military organization separate from the regular armed forces, and Hezbollah are setting up bases on Israel’s doorstep in southern Syria.

Read more: Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad: Propped up by Tehran and Moscow

Trump visits Saudi Arabia (picture-alliance/abaca)In May, Trump opened a combating extremism center with Arab and Muslim allies in Saudi Arabia. At the time, he had sharp words for Iran.

Who objects alongside Trump? 

Internationally, Trump’s view of the deal reflects that of the Gulf Arab monarchies and the right-wing of the powerful Israel lobby in the US. Both the Gulf monarchies and Israel are concerned about Iran’s expanding influence in the Middle East and the end of Iran’s international isolation through the lifting of sanctions.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly lambasted the nuclear deal and lobbied the Trump administration to pull out. However, current and former Israeli intelligence and military officials have said that while the deal is not perfect, Iran has not violated the agreement and a US withdrawal would backfire.

Netanyahu stands before the UNNetanyahu praised Trump’s hardline comments on Iran at the UN.

Domestically, critics of the Iran deal in Trump’s current administration include  US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, CIA chief Mike Pompeo and senior White House policy advisor Stephen Miller.

Defense Secretary James Mattis, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, are reportedly in favor of the US staying in the deal, despite advocating a strong line against Iran.

How could Trump break the deal?

Trump faces an October 15 deadline to certify to the US Congress whether Iran is complying with the nuclear deal. If he does not certify compliance, Congress could impose nuclear-related sanctions, effectively killing the 2015 deal. However, it remains unclear how the Republican-controlled Congress would respond.

Read more: New US Russia sanctions bill risks EU anger

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Russia, Iran warn US against new Syria attacks

A week since the US launched airstrikes in Syria, Iranian, Syrian and Russian foreign ministers have met in Moscow. All three countries strongly warned the United States against launching new strikes.

Russland Treffen von Lavrov, Javad Zarif und Muallem in Moskau (Reuters/S. Karpukhin)

Hosting three-way talks with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem (pictured above, left), and Iranian counterpart Mohammed Dschawad Sarif (pictured above, right) in Moscow on Friday, Russian Foreign Minsiter Sergey Lavrov denounced last week’s US attack on Syria and warned that any further such action would entail “grave consequences not only for regional but global security.”

Read: US skips out on Afghanistan conference in Moscow

Lavrov also told al-Moualem that Russia and the US have a shared understanding that such strikes would not be repeated.

The Interfax news agency reported that the Russian diplomat revealed this had been “concluded” during Wednesday’s visit of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Moscow.

Watch video00:42

Lavrov: “Future of Syria has to be decided by Syrians themselves”

US ‘did not rule out any future action’

In Washington, however, the US State Department said Tillerson did not eliminate the possibility of the US maybe undertaking future strikes.

“The secretary explained there were no subsequent targets after the missile strike, but he did not rule out any future action,” State Department acting spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement.

“He stressed that Russia is in a position to use its influence over the Assad regime to ensure it is never again necessary for the US to act,” Toner said.

US blames Assad regime

The US launched Tomahawk missiles at Syria’s Shayrat air base near Homs last Friday, in response toa chemical attack in the northwestern Idlibprovince.

Washington has blamed Assad’s government for the deadly attack which killed more than 80 people. Damascus, however, has staunchly denied the accusation.

The Syria crisis is also set to be the focus of further talks planned for Saturday between Lavrov and Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani.

 

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‘Ahmadinejad challenges Iran’s power structures’

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has registered to run in Iran’s presidential election, against the will of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. This provocation harms the entire regime, says Iran expert Bahman Nirumand.

Iran Mahmud Ahmadinedschad Archiv (picture alliance/dpa/P. Foley)

DW: On May 19, presidential elections are set to be held in Iran. Iran’s former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has made an unexpected comeback by submitting his candidacy for the presidential election. Why is he throwing his hat in the ring again?

Bahman Nirumand: Actually, everyone in Iran is asking themselves the same question, as Ahmadinejad already declared in 2016 that he would forgo his candidacy because the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, advised him to do so. In the past weeks, Ahmadinejad has been campaigning for his erstwhile vice-president, Hamid Baghaei, whom he suggested as a candidate. But all of a sudden, Ahmadinejad himself registered as a candidate. It is clearly an act of defiance against Khamenei.

Does Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have a realistic chance of being reelected?

I assume that the Guardian Council, which reviews the candidates’ suitability, will reject his application, it did with Baghaei. It is quite detrimental to the reputation of the regime to label a former president as “unsuitable.” But it will take this risk.

Bahman Nirumand (picture-alliance/dpa-Zentralbild)Iran expert Bahman Nirumand

Nevertheless, no one understands this move. He is running even though he must reckon with rejection. Many observers say he is not only harming himself but also the regime’s reputation; he is backstabbing his longtime vice-president Baghaei as instead of supporting him he is running himself. Everyone stands to lose something because of this move. Why is he doing this anyway?

The conservatives have isolated him throughout the years. He was no longer in the game and no longer on the political stage. I have the feeling that he wants to take revenge. He has already hurt Khamenei. Such open defiance of a recommendation made by the Supreme Leader – be it (founder of the Islamic Republic) Khomeini or (his successor Ali) Khameini – has never been seen before. I do not believe that Ahmadinejad expects that he will be admitted to the election or even have a chance of winning the election. He is probably not that unrealistic. But there is actually no plausible or logical reason why he has made this move now.

Iran Kritik an den US Wahlen (picture-alliance/AP Photo)Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameinei was likely not thrilled at ex-president’s move

The provocation seems to have been successful because his candidacy has certainly caused a stir in Iran.

Yes, he was successful in the way, and I am very eager to see how Khamenei will react. He will probably remain silent, as anything he says about this would harm him.

The question is how will this entire matter affect the elections? Ahmadinejad will surely harm the conservatives. After all, he still has a substantial number of followers in rural areas of the country. When he was president he gave many handouts to the poor in rural regions and he is still popular with certain parts of the population.

It is also possible that many who are against the regime support him because he basically challenges the power structures through his candidacy and because he disregards all the rules of the game. In all the speeches he has held in recent weeks, he has said time and time again that he is striving for a completely new order and that it is unacceptable that the people are not allowed to have their say. He has often made provocative remarks directed at the entire political system. That is why it is quite possible that some people who have long turned their backs on the state now support him as a means of harming the regime.

If Ahmadinejad were admitted to the elections, would he not indirectly help Iran’s current president, Rouhani, because he may be able to take away decisive votes from Rouhani’s main conservative rival Raeisi?

I think so. But the conservatives do not all agree. Raeisi’s candidacy is not without controversy; not all conservative groups support him. If Ahmadinejad were to be admitted, some of the votes for the conservatives could be lost. Rouhani would benefit from this. But that is certainly not Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s declared goal.

Watch video01:21

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wants a third term as Iran’s president

Nevertheless, the divisions within the conservative camp seem greater than one thought them to be.

That is certain. That is why there will probably be attempts to cast a veil of silence over this matter.

It would surely be the smartest thing for the conservatives, so as not to trigger any discussions that would last for weeks until the election.

 

However, this whole matter has not hurt Hassan Rouhani’s chances of being reelected – on the contrary. If there is confusion among the conservatives, he can only benefit from it.

Bahman Nirumand is an Iranian and German journalist and author living in Berlin. He has written several books, including a political biography of Ayatollah Khomeini.

This interview was conducted by Thomas Latschan. 

 

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Iran hints at quitting Syria talks amid spat with Saudi Arabia

Iran has said it might opt out of Syria talks, citing the ‘negative’ role of its regional rival Saudi Arabia. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also called on Riyadh to end ‘intrusions’ in Middle Eastern affairs.

Iranian deputy foreign minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian

The worsening relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran are affecting the ongoing Syria talks aimed at finding a political solution to the protracted conflict in the Middle Eastern country.

For the first time, Tehran was invited to negotiations in Vienna on Friday, but the deputy foreign minister of the Shiite nation said Monday his country’s participation in the second round of talks was doubtful.

“In the first round of talks, some countries, especially Saudi Arabia, played a negative and unconstructive role. Iran will not participate if the talks are not fruitful,” Hossein Amir Abdollahian (photo) said.

Riyadh and Tehran are at loggerheads on the Syrian issue, with Iran supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad and Saudi Arabia insisting that the embattled Syrian leader should have no role in the war-torn country’s future.

The two regional rivals with different brands of Islam are also locked in a conflict in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia has been launching airstrikes against Iran-backed Shiite Houthi rebels.

Trading accusations

Less than 24 hours after multinational diplomatic talks in Vienna on Friday, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir called a Gulf security conference in Bahrain and attacked Iranian policies.

“We have extended our hand in friendship to Iran,” Jubeir said. “It is up to the Iranians whether they want to have relations with us based on good neighborliness … or if they want to have relations that are filled with tension,” he added.

Responding to Jubeir, Abdollahian warned Saudi Arabia to “not test the limits of the Islamic Republic’s patience.”

“Instead of blaming others, Saudi Arabia’s minister of foreign affairs would do better to end his visible and hidden support for terrorists in Yemen, Iraq and Syria,” Abdollahian said.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, too, criticized Riyadh for what he called the kingdom’s “intrusion” in the Middle East.

“If Saudi Arabia’s vision on the big regional questions confronts reality and it stops its intrusions, we can solve many problems, especially in our relations,” Rouhani told a meeting of Iranian ambassadors in Tehran on Monday.

shs/jm (Reuters, AFP)

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Israelis think Benjamin Netanyahu is doing a pretty bad job on foreign policy

Netanyahu at the UN.(Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Israelis are very unhappy with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s foreign policy. A new poll from the Israeli think tank Mitvim shows that 60 percent of Israelis disapprove of his government’s performance on foreign policy — nearly double the number who did so inthe same poll last year.

The poll, first reported by the Jerusalem Post‘s Lahav Harkov on Thursday, asked 600 Israelis to rank the government’s foreign policy performance on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 is bad, 5 is neutral, and 10 is very good. Sixty percent of Israelis responded with a rating between 1 and 4 — varying degrees of “bad.” Last year, the figure was only 34 percent.

Another way to look at this is the average response. Last year, the mean response among Israelis was 5.29, or slightly better than neutral. This year, the average was 3.96, clearly in “bad” territory. Here’s why Israelis are so unhappy with their foreign policy — and why their anger might not actually hurt Netanyahu all that much.

This is about two things: America and Iran

Obama And Biden Meet With Israeli PM Netanyahu At White House(Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Obama and Netanyahu meet.

What happened? The answer is fairly clear: Netanyahu got in a giant fight with the United States over the Iran deal, and lost.

The US is Israel’s biggest ally, and Israelis are very sensitive to the tone of their relationship with the US. Netanyahu clashed repeatedly with his American counterparts, both with Bill Clinton when he was prime minister in the ’90s and with Barack Obama during the president’s first six years in office.

But 2015 was really the year the Netanyahu-Obama relationship collapsed, and Iran was the key cause. Netanyahu pushed hard against the Iran deal and meddled in American domestic politics to try to block it.

He gave a speech before Congress orchestrated by Republicans, behind Obama’s back, in a deliberate attempt to undermine Obama’s support for the deal in Congress. He all but registered as a lobbyist against the deal when there was an (ultimately doomed) effort by congressional Republicans to torpedo it. In essence, Netanyahu sided with the Republican Party against the Obama administration — infuriating the Obama administration.

Israelis, of course, noticed this. Netanyahu’s political opponents, particularly on the center and left, have bashed him for undermining the US-Israel relationship. Forty-one percent of Israelis said relations with the US were “not good” in Mitvim’s poll — more than twice as many who said that in last year’s poll.

To make matters worse, Netanyahu didn’t actually stop the Iran deal. The deal is widely unpopular in Israel, and especially unpopular on the Israeli right. The Mitvim poll found that 58 percent of Israelis believe Netanyahu failed in his efforts to block a deal. No one was left satisfied with the way Netanyahu’s foreign policy went down on the top issues of 2015.

So it makes sense that a huge number of Israelis would swing against Netanyahu’s foreign policy: He’s essentially failed everyone. “This isn’t surprising at all,” Michael Koplow, the policy director at the Israel Policy Forum, says of the poll results. “He hasn’t gone far enough to mollify either the hawks or the doves, and he sits somewhere in the muddy middle. And nobody’s happy.”

The silver lining for Netanyahu

netanyahu(Salih Zeki Fazlioglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Netanyahu after his March 2015 election victory.

If there’s one piece of good news in the poll for Netanyahu, it’s this: He’s still the most trusted Israeli leader on foreign policy.

Mitvim asked the poll respondents which Israeli leaders stood out on foreign policy issues; Netanyahu came in first, with 21 percent citing him as the standout. Two right-wing members of the Knesset, Education Minister Naftali Bennett and former Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, tied for second with 17 percent. The leader of the opposition, the Labor Party’s Isaac Herzog, received only 5 percent of the Israeli public’s endorsement.

So despite an objectively awful foreign policy year for Netanyahu, Israelis still see him as their country’s best choice for dealing with the world. That illustrates just how little faith Israelis have in their current crop of political leaders.

“This is the same reason [Netanyahu] keeps on getting elected: People think there’s no other viable alternative,” Koplow says. “It doesn’t mean that people are happy with him. They just don’t see anyone else who’s going to do a good job.”

Report: Evidence US Is Backtracking on Iran Stance, Restarting Negotiations With Islamic Republic

SEPTEMBER 22, 2015 10:26 AM 10 COMMENTS

Secretary of State John Kerry shaking hands with his Iranian counterpart, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The U.S. could be easing its policy on sanctions relief for Iran and restarting negotiations with the Islamic Republic, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reported on Monday.

According to the report, the fact that foreign ministers of the P5+1 and Iran are set to meet with their Iranian counterpart in New York next week to “examine the recent developments of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)” is evidence of this potential shift.

At a joint press conference in Berlin on Sunday with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced that he would meet Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on September 28 – on the margins of the UN General Assembly – to discuss “Iran and other matters.”

This, MEMRI points out, comes on the heels of statements emerging from Tehran, which cast doubt on whether the JCPOA was actually finalized.

For example, on Saturday, the head of Iran’s Center for Strategic Research, Ali Akbar Velayati, one of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s close advisers, said that the “nuclear negotiations are not over yet.”

Velayati’s assertion was a more diplomatic and abbreviated version of remarks made by Khamenei at the beginning of the month.

In a speech he delivered on September 3 to the Assembly of Experts – the body of Islamic theologians tasked with electing, supervising or removing the supreme leader from power – Khamenei said he did not accept the terms of the agreement as they have been touted by the P5+1 powers, particularly the United States.

“We negotiated [with the Americans] in order to have the sanctions lifted, and the sanctions will be lifted. Now, if we are supposed to uphold this framework… this completely contradicts the reason for Iran’s participation in the talks to begin with. Otherwise, what was the point of our participation in the talks? We would have continued to do what we were doing [prior to the talks]… The fact that we sat down and held talks and made concessions on certain issues was mainly in order to have the sanctions lifted. If the sanctions are not going to be lifted, there will be no agreement… [Our] officials [i.e. Rouhani’s government and his Ministry of Foreign Affairs] should make this clear…

“Freezing or suspension [of the sanctions] is unacceptable to me… If they suspend [the sanctions], we too will suspend [what is incumbent upon us]. If we are to implement what [is required of us], the sanctions must be [actually] cancelled. True, the other side says that some of the sanctions are not [up to them entirely] to be lifted. We say in response that [with regard to those sanctions] we will use our legal rights to freeze them. But regarding [the sanctions that are] in the hands of the American and European governments – those must be totally lifted.”

According to MEMRI, “The apparent meaning of all the above is that the nuclear negotiations, which Iran considers unfinished, will be reopened, with the aim of achieving the complete lifting of sanctions – instead of a mere suspension of them as was agreed in the JCPOA and adopted in U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231.”

In the immediate aftermath of Khamenei’s speech, White House spokesman Josh Earnest stated:

“We’ve been crystal clear about the fact that Iran will have to take a variety of serious steps to significantly roll back their nuclear program before any sanctions relief is offered — and this is everything from reducing their nuclear uranium stockpile by 98 percent, disconnecting thousands of centrifuges, essentially gutting the core of their heavy-water reactor at Arak, giving the IAEA the information and access they need in order to complete their report about the potential military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program. And then we need to see Iran begin to comply with the inspections regime that the IAEA will put in place to verify their compliance with the agreement.

“And only after those steps and several others have been effectively completed, will Iran begin to receive sanctions relief. The good news is all of this is codified in the agreement that was reached between Iran and the rest of the international community. And that’s what we will be focused on, is their compliance with the agreement.”

But now, with Iran refusing in retrospect to acknowledge the above, “The expected meeting between the P5+1 foreign ministers and Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif may be evidence of a shift in the White House position and also evidence that it intends to discuss the Iranian demand for further concessions from the superpowers,” MEMRI stated. “It should be clarified that agreement on the part of the U.S. to lifting the sanctions would constitute a fundamental change to the JCPOA. This is because lifting the sanctions, rather than suspending them, will render impossible a snapback in case of Iranian violations, and the guarantee of a snapback is one of the central justifications for the JCPOA, according to President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry.”

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