The commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guard Corps said Sunday the Islamic Republic no longer needs an agreement with world powers on its nuclear program, dismissing efforts to save an unraveling 2015 deal regulating its activities, according to the semi-official Fars News agency.
“Today, we have come to a point that we have really grown needless of the nuclear deal and we have understood that we should prioritize efforts to become needless of sanctions removal rather than staying in need of the removal of embargoes,” Hossein Salami told a gathering of volunteer militia forces in Tehran, Fars reported, in an English translation of his remarks.
“Our enemies had big dreams and (now) they have forgotten all of them altogether,” Salami continued. “Now they are watchful not to sustain heavier defeats at our hands.”
Despite Salami’s claims, Iran’s economy has buckled under the burden of US sanctions imposed by the Trump administration. Last September its currency reached its lowest ever value against the US dollar. Yet the country has pressed ahead with a military program to self-produce advanced missiles, rockets and other weapons.
Salami’s remarks came the day after Iran rejected suggestions by French President Emmanuel Macron that Tehran renegotiate the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
Macron was reported to say any new nuclear negotiations with Tehran would be “very strict,” and that only a very short time remains to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
In response, an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman cautioned Macron to “exercise restraint and refrain from hasty and ill-considered positions.”
“If there is a desire to revive and maintain the deal, the solution is simple: The United States will return to the accord and all sanctions will be removed,” the spokesman said.
Former US president Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the nuclear deal in 2018, saying it was not strict enough and did not address Iran’s ballistic missile program and regional aspirations. Under the 2015 deal, Tehran had agreed to limit its uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.
After the US then ramped up sanctions, Iran gradually and publicly abandoned the deal’s limits on its nuclear development. Iranian state TV reported Thursday that Iran had exceeded 17 kilograms of 20 percent enriched uranium within a month, moving its nuclear program closer to weapons-grade enrichment levels.
US President Joe Biden, who was vice president when the deal was signed during the Obama administration, has said he hopes to return the US to the deal. But he has also said Tehran must resume compliance first, a demand reiterated by new Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week.
The Biden administration’s policy on Iran is expected to be a point of contention between the new US administration and Israel. Israeli officials have voiced strong objections to the US rejoining the nuclear deal, and have also issued threats against Iran in recent weeks.
Iran says it is not seeking to develop nuclear weapons, a position repeated last week by its Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.