Iran will abide by nuclear deal even if US pulls out, assures Rouhani

President says that as long as his country’s interests are preserved, Tehran will honor the pact

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a press conference in Tehran on February 6, 2018, (ATTA KENARE/AFP)
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a press conference in Tehran on February 6, 2018, (ATTA KENARE/AFP)

Iran will remain committed to the nuclear deal it signed with world powers, even if the US pulls out of it, as long as the pact continues to serve the best interests of the country, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday.

“We will stay in the JCPOA as long as our interests are observed,” Rouhani said during a press conference, according to the Financial Times. “The US staying in or out of will not be the main criteria for our decision.

“We have principles and will continue based on our principles,” he added.

US President Donald Trump last month extended waivers against reimposing sanctions that were lifted following the deal, but also warned European partners to the agreement that it was the last time he would give the extensions. The US president has twice refused to certify that Iran is keeping to its terms in the deal, a measure that has cast doubts on the future of the agreement.

Trump has threatened to back out of the 2015 so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, unless it is altered to include more stringent measures preventing Iran from producing or obtaining nuclear weapons.

Rouhani stressed that there would be no alterations to the deal, which Iran signed with the US, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany.

“The key to the problems between Tehran and Washington is in Washington’s hands. They need to stop their threats and sanctions and pressure, and automatically the situation will improve and we can think about our future,” he said.

“The JCPOA is not negotiable, nor can it be rewritten,” he added.

Under the current accord, the US president has to sign the waivers every 120 days, while the American intelligence services monitor the Islamic Republic’s compliance with the deal, which rolled back crippling sanctions against Tehran in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.

US President Donald Trump speaks during a roundtable discussion on the MS-13 gang in the Cabinet Room of the White House on February 6, 2018 in Washington, DC. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP)

If Trump does not re-sign the waivers in the future, nuclear sanctions against Iran will automatically be reinstated, putting the US in contravention of the deal’s terms and likely spelling the end of the pact.

Trump has laid out four conditions that must be met for him to not abrogate the deal, including increased inspections that ensure “Iran never even comes close to possessing a nuclear weapon” and that there be no expiration dates to the deal. The current one expires after a decade.

Sources with access to the Iranian leadership’s frame of mind say Tehran already sees the US as out of the nuclear deal but it hopes that Russia and China will keep the arrangement going, according to the Financial Times. The sources noted that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also backs maintaining the deal even if the US withdraws.

At stake are crucial trade deals including oil sales that have doubled since the agreement was put into place and are at two million barrels per day.

“Rouhani and his diplomatic team are safeguarding the nuclear deal with their teeth and claws,” said one Iranian source who was not identified in the report. “In practice, the US is already out of the deal. But we will not reciprocate their move, and hope that we can keep… selling oil to Europeans and doing business with them.”

The Iranian president also stressed Tuesday that Iran will not negotiate about its missile program, despite Trump’s demands that it be scaled back as part of the nuclear deal.

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