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Dismissing Trump, Rouhani rules out renegotiating Iran nuclear deal

Iranian leader rejects US president-elect’s threats to dismantle 2016 international agreement as mere ‘slogans’

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani gives a press conference in Tehran Jaunary 17, 2017. (AFP/Atta Kenare)
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani gives a press conference in Tehran Jaunary 17, 2017. (AFP/Atta Kenare)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday there is no chance of his country renegotiating its 2016 nuclear deal with world powers, even if US President-elect Donald Trump demands it.

Trump has strongly criticized the deal, under which Iran agreed to curb its uranium enrichment in exchange for sanctions relief, but has not said what he plans to do about the agreement.

“The nuclear deal is finished, it has been approved by the UN Security Council and has become an international document. It is a multilateral accord and there is no sense in renegotiating it,” said Rouhani at a news conference a year on from the deal coming into force.

He compared talk of renegotiating the nuclear accord to “converting a shirt back to cotton,” and Trump’s talk of doing so as “mainly slogans.”

US Secretary of State John Kerry (left) speaks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif after the UN atomic watchdog verifies that Iran has met all conditions of the July 2015 nuclear deal, in Vienna, Austria, on January 16, 2016. (AFP/Kevin Lamarque/Pool)
US Secretary of State John Kerry (left) speaks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif after the UN atomic watchdog verifies that Iran has met all conditions of the July 2015 nuclear deal, in Vienna, Austria, on January 16, 2016. (AFP/Kevin Lamarque/Pool)

Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, has called for a “full review” of the deal.

“Mr. Trump, the president-elect, has made various statements that the nuclear deal does not satisfy him, that it was not a good deal or even that it was the worst deal ever,” said Rouhani.

“These are mostly slogans, and I don’t think that when he enters the White House, something will happen. It is not a bilateral deal that he can decide he likes or doesn’t like,” he added.

Interviewed Tuesday at his last World Economic Forum as America’s top diplomat, US Secretary of State John Kerry told New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman he doesn’t believe Trump’s administration will quickly reverse some of the Obama administration’s diplomatic achievements.

US President-elect Donald Trump answers questions from the media after a day of meetings on December 28, 2016 at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida. (AFP/Don Emmert)
US President-elect Donald Trump answers questions from the media after a day of meetings on December 28, 2016 at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida. (AFP/Don Emmert)

If the Trump administration tries to dismantle the Iran deal, for example, Kerry hazarded, other countries who helped strike the agreement would keep it, leaving the United States “the odd-person out.

“We’ll have injured our own credibility,” he said.

The deal was signed between Iran, the US, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.

Outgoing US Secretary of State John Kerry (R) gestures as he speaks on the opening day of the World Economic Forum, on January 17, 2017, in Davos. The global elite begin a week of earnest debate and Alpine partying in the Swiss ski resort of Davos on January 17, 2017 in a week bookended by two presidential speeches of historic import. (AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI)
Outgoing US Secretary of State John Kerry (R) gestures as he speaks on the opening day of the World Economic Forum, on January 17, 2017, in Davos. (AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI)

On Monday the White House said in a press release that the deal had “achieved significant, concrete results,” such as subjecting Iran to an intrusive inspection and verification program, reducing its uranium stockpile by 98 percent and dismantling more than two-thirds of its centrifuges.

While lauding the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — as the deal is formally known — for “making the world a safer place,” the White House did express consternation about ongoing Iranian behavior that threatens to destabilize the region and inflict harm on US interests and its allies, particularly Israel.

EU and British officials have this week said they would not support any renegotiation of the deal, which places strict curbs on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for a lifting of international sanctions.

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