US President Donald Trump’s speech in which he outlined an aggressive new strategy against Iran shows the US is “more than ever isolated in its opposition to the nuclear deal,” President Hassan Rouhani said Friday.
Rouhani spoke in a televised address after Trump gave a much anticipated White House speech in which he “decertified” his support for the 2015 nuclear agreement, and left its fate in the hands of Congress.
“Today the United States is more than ever isolated in its opposition to the nuclear deal and in its plots against the Iranian people,” Rouhani said.
“What was heard today was nothing but the repetition of baseless accusations and swear words that they have repeated for years,” Rouhani said. “The Iranian nation does not expect anything else from you.”
Rouhani dismissed Trump’s threat to tear up the landmark deal between Tehran and six world powers including Washington if Congress does not impose tough new sanctions on Iran.
“He has not studied international law. Can a president annul a multilateral international treaty on his own?” Rouhani said.
“Apparently he doesn’t know that this agreement is not a bilateral agreement solely between Iran and the United States.”
Rouhani responded in kind to Trump’s list of alleged destabilizing activities in the region, with his own catalog of US misdemeanors, starting with the CIA’s involvement in a 1953 coup which toppled Iran’s democratically elected government.
He also criticized US involvement in wars from Vietnam to Afghanistan and Iraq, and highlighted the shooting down by a US naval vessel of an Iran Air passenger flight in 1988, which killed 290 people.
Rouhani said Iran would continue to build and test ballistic missiles, something allowed under the nuclear deal though Americans believe it violates the accord’s spirit.
“We have always been determined and today we are more determined,” Rouhani said. “We will double our efforts from now on.”
Many Iranians responded to Trump’s speech on social media with the hashtag #NeverTrustUSA, with many highlighting the travel ban placed on Iranians earlier this year.
“The most disgusting part of Trump’s speech was when he tried to show himself as sympathizing with Iranians,” wrote one Twitter user.
“Reminder: Not even 6 months have passed from the execution of visa ban for Iranians!” wrote another.
Trump called for tougher sanctions on Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and ballistic missile program, and said the deal could still be “terminated” if Congress did not adequately confront “destabilizing” Iranian activity in the Middle East.
But he stepped back from the sort of measures that would immediately torpedo the nuclear agreement.
Iran’s army spokesman Masoud Jazayeri responded by saying: “The armed forces will continue more determined than ever on its path of developing and enhancing its defence power,” in quotes carried by state news agency IRNA.
Rouhani attacked Trump’s characterization of the Revolutionary Guards as a corrupt organization propping up a “fanatical regime.”
“Is the Iranian government a dictatorship… or is it the governments who are supported by the United States and still run their country on a tribal basis and have never seen an election in their country?” Rouhani said in a pointed reference to Iran’s regional rival, Saudi Arabia.
Despite Trump’s aggressive rhetoric, Rouhani said Iran remained committed to the nuclear agreement for the time being.
“We respect the JCPOA… so long as it remains in keeping with our national rights and interests,” he said, using its technical name.
Rouhani also responded to Trump’s criticism regarding the frequently heard slogans of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel,” which Iranians usually depict as opposition to the policies of those nations, rather than a call for their physical destruction.
“Are you upset with the slogans? Then stop your hostile policies,” Rouhani said.
In his own address hours earlier, Trump warned that the US may yet walk away from “one of the worst” agreements in history.
“I am announcing that we cannot and will not make this certification,” Trump said in an highly anticipated address on America’s strategy for containing Tehran.
“We will not continue down a path whose predictable conclusion is more violence and terror and the very real threat of Iran’s nuclear break out.”
The US leader also announced tough new sanctions on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, while stopping short of declaring the powerful group a terrorist organization.
Trump warned that the US could “terminate the deal” if it is unable to bring about better terms and better enforcement of the current accord.
For his part, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the US president’s announcement, saying that Trump had “boldly confronted Iran’s terrorist regime.”
In a video posted to YouTube, the Israeli leader said, “If the Iran deal is left unchanged, one thing is absolutely certain — in a few year’s time, the world’s foremost terrorist regime will have an arsenal of nuclear weapons.”