Iran President Hassan Rouhani slammed the United States Monday, saying it had no right to make decisions for Iran, following US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s speech outlining the Trump administration’s new strategy towards Iran.
Rouhani’s comments were an apparent rejection of a steep list of demands set forth by Pompeo for a new nuclear treaty, which included several concessions Iran has said in the past it could never accept.
Instead, he indicated that Washington had lost its ability to dictate terms when it pulled out the 2015 nuclear agreement.
“Who are you to decide for Iran and the world?” Rouhani said in a statement carried by multiple Iranian news agencies. “The world today does not accept that the United States decides for the world. Countries have their independence,” he added.
Pompeo had vowed to implement “the strongest sanctions in history” on Tehran after US President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal earlier this month.
“The sting of sanctions will only grow more painful if the regime does not change course from the unacceptable and unproductive path it has chosen for itself and the people of Iran,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo outlined 12 conditions that the United States considers prerequisites for any firm agreement with the Islamic Republic, including giving up ballistic missiles, ending support for terror and halting threats against Israel, among other demands.
He said the length of the list was simple testament to the “scope of the malign behavior of Iran.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zariff blasted the new US strategy as a “regression.”
“US diplomacy sham is merely a regression to old habits: imprisoned by delusions & failed policies—dictated by corrupt Special Interest—it repeats the same wrong choices and will thus reap the same ill rewards. Iran, meanwhile, is working with partners for post-US JCPOA solutions,” he wrote on Twitter.
Rouhani dismissed the administration of US President Donald Trump as a “move 15 years backwards to the era of Bush junior and a repeat of the same statements as 2003.”
“The era of such statements has evolved and the Iranian people have heard these statements hundreds of times, and no longer pays attention,” he added.
An unnamed Iranian official told Reuters that Pompeo’s speech showed that the United States is seeking to topple the Islamic Republic.
“America wants to pressure Iran to surrender and accept their illegal demands … his remarks showed that America is surely after regime change in Iran,” the unnamed official said.
Mojtaba Zonnour, an Iranian cleric and politician, rejected Pompeo’s demands.
“Iran does not need anyone’s permission to fulfill its role in the region,” he said. “Our missile forces are defensive and their range reaches to anywhere we see a threat,” the Ynet news site reported he said.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson preempted the secretary of state’s speech, telling an audience in Buenos Aires that the new US plan would not work.
“If you try now to fold all those issues — the ballistic missiles, Iran’s misbehavior, Iran’s disruptive activity in the region and the nuclear question — if you try to fold all those into a giant negotiation,” Johnson said, “I don’t see that being very easy to achieve, in anything like a reasonable timetable,” Bloomberg news site reported.
He suggested that it would be possible for the US to eventually come back into line with the rest of the international community and accept a proposition being worked on which would be based on the original Iran deal with some additional clauses added in.
“I’m not totally pessimistic about the situation. In the end, there is a deal to be done that gives Iran a greater economic access to the West, but also constrains it,” he said. “That’s what we want to work on with the Americans. They have some ideas; we have some ideas. I think in the end, we will get back to the kind of additions to the JCPOA that we initially envisaged — but it may take a long time.”
J Street, a left-wing American Jewish organization that was supportive of the original Iran deal said that instead of bringing security, the new US demands would destabilize the Middle East.
“The secretary of state made clear today that the United States under President Trump is almost totally isolated and is acting as a destabilizing force in the Middle East,” the group said in a statement.
“Let’s be clear: Today, it’s the US alone that is in violation of the historic JCPOA arms control agreement. This administration is fundamentally opposed to the basics of diplomacy and negotiation,” J Street said. “Under the guidance of his new war cabinet, the president has demanded Iran’s complete and unconditional capitulation on a maximalist list of demands — an approach that is a recipe for confrontation and war.”
The group called on lawmakers to limit the president’s authority to act against Iran.
“The only way now to ensure that a profoundly unfit president and his regime change-obsessed advisers cannot bring about another costly and bloody war of choice is for Congress to exercise its constitutional duty to act as a check on the president,” the statement read. “Congress must make clear that the president does not now have its authorization for the use of military force against Iran.”