Rouhani says he’s ready for talks if US apologizes for exiting nuclear deal
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Rouhani says he’s ready for talks if US apologizes for exiting nuclear deal

Iranian president issues warning to UN nuke watchdog, criticizes European countries for not doing more to shield his country from American sanctions

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani delivers a speech during the inaugural session of the new parliament in Tehran on May 27, 2020. (AFP)
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani delivers a speech during the inaugural session of the new parliament in Tehran on May 27, 2020. (AFP)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday that he is prepared to hold talks with the US, if Washington first apologizes for leaving a landmark 2015 nuclear pact and recommits to the terms of the deal.

During a televised cabinet meeting Rouhani said Washington’s recent calls on Iran to open negotiations are just “words and lies,” Reuters reported.

In 2018, US President Donald trump pulled out of the deal and reimposed sanctions on Iran. Tehran has since sought for other signatories to the deal — Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China, which have been struggling to save the accord — to increase economic incentives to make up for the hard-hitting sanctions imposed by Washington after the US withdrawal.

Iran accuses the US of trying to prevent that by pressuring the countries still in the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Meanwhile, Iran has been violating its restrictions, including the amount of uranium it can enrich and the purity of enrichment, to try to pressure the five countries.

“We have no problem with talks with the US, but only if Washington fulfills its obligations under the nuclear deal, apologizes and compensates Tehran for its withdrawal from the 2015 deal,” Rouhani said.

“But we know these calls for talks with Tehran are just words and lies,” he added, referring to Washington’s repeated statements urging talks.

Rafael Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), opens a virtual meeting of the Board of Governors of the IAEA , due to coronavirus safety related measures, at the agency’s headquarters in Vienna, Austria on June 15, 2020. (JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

Rouhani also warned that the UN nuclear watchdog risked losing its independence after it adopted a resolution urging access to two sites alleged to have hosted past nuclear activities.

The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency passed a resolution put forward by European states last week, calling on Iran to help clarify whether undeclared nuclear activities took place at the sites in the early 2000s.

But the Islamic Republic says the IAEA’s requests for access were based on allegations from its arch-enemy Israel and had no legal basis.

“The Zionist regime and the Americans are pressuring the agency to investigate something related to 20, 18 years ago. They are deceiving the agency, misleading it,” Rouhani said.

“Our expectation is that… the agency should be able to keep its independence,” he added, warning that Israel and the United States were tarnishing its reputation.

Rouhani also slammed the three European parties to the Iran nuclear deal — Britain, France and Germany — for putting forward the resolution and “sullying themselves for no reason” by cooperating with Israel and the US.

“We did not expect this from the Europeans,” he said, praising China and Russia — also parties to the nuclear deal — for standing against the resolution.

Rouhani said Iran would continue to work with the IAEA regarding “legal inspections.”

It is not clear what effect the new resolution will have on the nuclear deal but Iran has threatened unspecified consequences.

Technicians work at the Arak heavy water reactor’s secondary circuit, as officials and media visit the site, near Arak, 150 miles (250 kilometers) southwest of the capital Tehran, Iran, December 23, 2019. (Atomic Energy Organization of Iran via AP)

Rouhani also criticized European countries, which continue to support the existing deal, saying that have not provided Iran with protection from the US sanctions.

“The Europeans have failed to fulfill their promises. They should carry out their obligations,” he said.

The IAEA maintains that one of the two sites that Iran has blocked access to was partially demolished in 2004. At the other, the agency said it observed activities “consistent with efforts to sanitize” the facility from July 2019 onward.

A third site, the IAEA said, had undergone “extensive sanitization and leveling” in 2003 and 2004 and there would be no verification value in inspecting it.

The watchdog also said Iran has “not engaged in any substantive discussions” with the IAEA for almost a year to answer the agency’s questions about possible undeclared nuclear material and activities. The agency also said that Iran has continued to increase its stockpiles of enriched uranium and remains in violation of the nuclear deal.

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