Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday that his country wouldn’t surrender to pressure or threats from the United States in the aftermath of the nuclear deal pullout, adding that US President Donald Trump had made an error in expecting Tehran to leave the deal.
“They think they can make the Iranian nation surrender by putting pressures on Iran, by sanctions and even threats of war,” Rouhani said of renewed US sanctions recently imposed on Iran’s central bank, according to the ISNA news agency. “The Iranian nation will resist against the US plots.”
“Trump played his first card, but miscalculated the second move… as Iran did not follow that plan,” he added. Iran has since been in talks with the other signatories to ensure the deal continues.
Washington has long complained that the nuclear deal does nothing to stop Iran’s ballistic missile program or its interference in conflicts across the Middle East from Syria to Yemen.
On Sunday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington still wants to work with Europe to counter Iran’s “malign behavior” and was working hard to thrash out a more wide-ranging deal with its European partners.
However on Tuesday the US hit Iran’s central bank governor with sanctions.
Mohammad Javad Zarif on Tuesday met EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini as well as his counterparts from Britain, France and Germany — the three European signatories to the 2015 landmark accord who are scrambling to preserve it.
Tehran has warned it is prepared to resume “industrial-scale” uranium enrichment “without any restrictions” unless Europe can provide solid guarantees that it can maintain the economic benefits it gained from the nuclear agreement despite the United States reimposing sanctions.
Zarif’s meetings in Brussels capped a whirlwind global tour, including trips to both Russia and China, the two other signatory nations, in a bid to bolster support.
The European Union insists the deal is working, pointing to repeated UN inspections verifying the Islamic republic’s compliance with its side of the bargain.
EU leaders aim to show a united front on preserving the Iran deal when they meet for a pre-summit dinner in Sofia on Wednesday, European Council President Donald Tusk said.
“I would like our debate to reconfirm without any doubt that as long as Iran respects the provisions of the deal, the EU will also respect it,” Tusk said in a letter to the leaders on the eve of the summit.
European firms, especially those from France and Germany, rushed to invest in Iran following the 2015 accord, under which Tehran agreed to freeze its nuclear program in return for an end to punishing international sanctions.
German exports to Iran totaled nearly 3.0 billion euros in 2017, while French exports soared from 562 million euros in 2015 to 1.5 billion in 2017 and oil giant Total has pledged to invest some $5 billion in the South Pars gas field.
When he quit the deal last week, US President Donald Trump gave businesses a maximum of six months to wind up operations in Iran or face swingeing penalties under American sanctions.
AFP contributed to this report.