GVS Special Report|
Iran’s President, Hasan Rouhani on Friday lashed at US President Donald Trump, telling the world that “Iran Nuclear Deal” is non-negotiatiable and warned US on its attempts to unilaterally alter a multilateral international agreement. He asserted that Tehran will remain committed to the nuclear deal, but reserves its right to respond to the US actions.
Rouhani’s rejoinder came within hours of Trump’s barrage of criticism on the Islamic Republic and his decertification of multilateral Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), leaving the future of the 2015 landmark agreement – also signed by France, Germany, Russia, Britain and the European Union- in the hands of the Congress.
It is widely believed that Trump’s singular focus on the deal, in spite of evidence which shows Iran’s compliance, will play in the hands of the radical elements in Tehran
The 68-year old Rouhani widely-regarded as a moderate reformist was furious in responding to the speech delivered by his U.S. counterpart.”What was heard today was nothing but the repetition of baseless accusations and swear words that they have repeated for years. The Iranian nation does not expect anything else from you,” Rouhani, speaking without any notes, said on Friday.
Worst Deal Ever: Trump
The landmark nuclear deal had halted Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. However, the deal has been under the scanner ever since Trump started his election campaign, calling it the “worst deal ever”. Watchers of US-Iran ties were concerned that the 71-year old, unpredictable American leader, may abandon the deal. After gingerly certifying Iran’s compliance with the deal in July this year, he asserted that Iran is violating the spirit of the deal -leaving analysts wonder what he actually meant by it. When Trump later signed sanctions in August 2017, against Iran, President Rouhani had vowed to walk away from the deal if Trump continues to impose sanctions.
Rouhani while saying that the deal is non-negotiable said the US would be further isolated by forcefully going forward with its ambition to terminate the deal.”Today the United States is more than ever isolated in its opposition to the nuclear deal and in its plots against the Iranian people. He has not studied international law. Can a president annul a multilateral international treaty on his own? Apparently, he doesn’t know that this agreement is not a bilateral agreement solely between Iran and the United States.”
The deal was deemed a landmark because it was the best that the West could eke-out from the Islamic Regime; watchers and scholars are mindful of the dangers associated with pushing the regime further
However Trump appears to be posturing to increase pressure upon his European allies. While delivering his 18-minute long address on Friday, Trump said that the nuclear deal was the most one-sided agreement with the sanctions relief giving the regime funds to finance terrorism.”Worst of all, the deal allows Iran to continue developing certain elements of its nuclear programme. And importantly, in just a few years, as key restrictions disappear, Iran can sprint towards a rapid nuclear weapons breakout. In other words, we got weak inspections in exchange for no more than a purely short-term and temporary delay in Iran’s path to nuclear weapons,” he said.
Henry Kissinger assessed Iran worldview in the following words:”Of all the countries in the region, Iran has perhaps the most coherent sense of nationhood and the most elaborated tradition of national-interest –based statecraft.”
While announcing a series of measures against the regime, Trump called upon the Congress to remove various flaws in the deal which still allow Iran to press forward with a nuclear program.”I am directing my administration to work closely with Congress and our allies to address the deal’s many serious flaws so that the Iranian regime can never threaten the world with nuclear weapons. These include the deal’s sunset clauses that, in just a few years, will eliminate key restrictions on Iran’s nuclear programme,” said Trump while adding that if the flaws are not done away with, the deal will be terminated.
A Defiant Iran
If Congress moves to enact legislation that extends or alters restrictions in the deal, they risk violating the deal and pushing Iran to resume troublesome nuclear activities halted by the deal
Experts and analysts on Iran have often talked about its resilience and resistance to pressure; they warn against scrapping the deal, for it will merit a strong response from Tehran. The doyen of US diplomacy, Henry Kissinger assessed Iran worldview in the following words:”Of all the countries in the region, Iran has perhaps the most coherent sense of nationhood and the most elaborated tradition of national-interest –based statecraft.”
The sentiments of nationhood permeated in Rouhani’s address yesterday as he vowed not to succumb to international pressure. “Iran’s ballistic missile programme will expand despite pressure from the US. The Iranian nation has not and will never bow to any foreign pressure,” said Rouhani. He went on to say that the whole nation was united in standing together for Iran’s interests.
“Iran’s ballistic missile programme will expand despite pressure from the US. The Iranian nation has not and will never bow to any foreign pressure,” said Rouhani.
The US and its Arab allies are at loggerheads with Iran and are on a spree to curtail its influence in the Middle East. Iran’s continued support for Hezbollah; the Houthis and the Assad Regime has brought it in direct conflict with the US and the Saudi-led Arab alliance. President Trump enjoined upon all countries to confront Iran since it is the biggest supporter of terrorism in the region.
IAEA criticism of Trump
Experts believe that revoking the deal will make Iran all the more defiant; it will also detach the US from its allies – the other signatories of the JCPOA. Given the fact that Iran is found strictly in compliance with the deal, attempts to sabotage the deal will play into the hands of the hardliners in Iran led by the country’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei.
Reiterating its earlier ratification of Iran’s compliance with the deal, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Friday asserted categorically that the country is following the terms of the deal. In a statement by IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano, Iran’s adherence to the deal was stamped.”The IAEA’s verification and monitoring activities address all the nuclear-related elements under the JCPOA. They are undertaken in an impartial and objective manner and in accordance with the modalities defined by the JCPOA and standard safeguards practice,” the statement read. Amano also asserted that Tehran is subject to the most stringent nuclear verification regime while adding that the agency has access to all sites that it has requested.
Russia responded to Trump’s speech by saying that Iran is in compliance with the JCPOA; this was the first of the statements by the signatories of the treaty which rejected Trump’s claim
Trump’s speech and past references to the nuclear deal suggest that the US wants to punish Iranian policies in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen by hitting the nuclear deal. The deal, it must be stressed was not meant for anything other than halting the country’s nuclear program. However, it is expected that hardliners will push to confront US activities more robustly if the deal is terminated.
US Allies shocked on Trump’s Unilateralism
Russia responded to Trump’s speech by saying that Iran is in compliance with the JCPOA; this was the first of the statements by the signatories of the treaty which rejected Trump’s claim.The EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini asserted that the deal is working fine and no single country has the authority to terminate it. “The president of the United States has many powers, but not this one,” Mogherini told reporters on Friday.
While delivering his 18-minute long address on Friday, Trump said that the nuclear deal was the most one-sided agreement with the sanctions relief giving the regime funds to finance terrorism
According to a joint statement by British Prime Minister Theresa May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, full support was expressed for the deal and concerns were shown over Trump’s speech. The statement read: “We stand committed to the JCPOA and its full implementation by all sides. Preserving the JCPOA is in our shared national security interest. The nuclear deal was the culmination of 13 years of diplomacy and was a major step towards ensuring that Iran’s nuclear programme is not diverted for military purposes.”
Trump has, according to pundits put serious question marks on the credibility of the US as an international negotiator. Much of Iran’s hostility toward the US is based on its mistrust on Washington; thus the US, by being the only country trying to revoke the deal will add to the ever-increasing distrust. This will most likely rule out any chances of negotiations with DPRK, as the Kim-led regime does not trust Washington as of today.
GVS talks to Experts on Trump’s Decertification of Iran Nuclear Deal
The deal which was primarily struck to ensure that Iran does not join the nuclear club is in jeopardy; this is something which worries top US nonproliferation experts. GVS talked to Kelsey Davenport, Director of Nonproliferation Policy at the Arms Control Association, who is an expert on Iran’s and DPRK’s nuclear program.
Davenport termed the decertification as “irresponsible”. She asserted: “Decertification is irresponsible, unnecessary, and destabilizing for the nuclear deal, but it is not a violation. Trump’s attempt to kick responsibility to Congress to pass legislation that unilaterally alters the terms of the deal is the real risk for the agreement.”
“Davenport termed the decertification as “irresponsible”. She asserted: “Decertification is irresponsible, unnecessary, and destabilizing for the nuclear deal, but it is not a violation.
She was apprehensive of Iran resorting to dubious activities which were stopped by the deal. She said: “If Congress moves to enact legislation that extends or alters restrictions in the deal, they risk violating the deal and pushing Iran to resume troublesome nuclear activities halted by the deal.”
Hasan Rouhani on Friday while responding to U.S. President Donald Trump’s aggressive new strategy towards Iran said that Tehran will remain committed to the nuclear deal as long as it serves its national interests
Taking serious note of the impact of this off-the-cuff decertification, Kelsey said that the US will lose credibility by taking a solo-flight on the deal. She stressed: “Trump’s strategy is a slap in the face to U.S. negotiating partners, all of which oppose renegotiation, it damages U.S. credibility, and jeopardizes the highly-successful nuclear deal with Iran. It is critical that Congress refrain from going along with Trump’s reckless approach.”
Kelsey along with other experts at the Arms Control Association to include Daryl G Kimball released a statement denouncing Trump’s speech. The statement expressed concerns that Iran could be pushed into reactivating its troublesome activities in regard its nuclear program.
“The President’s gambit is irresponsible and dangerous. Any attempt by the White House or Congress to unilaterally change the terms of the highly-successful nuclear deal with Iran risks setting Washington on a course to violate the deal,” said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association.
Kimball asserted:”In 2002, the U.S. prematurely unraveled the 1994 Agreed Framework that had frozen North Korea’s plutonium production program because some in the George W. Bush administration thought it was a bad deal. Now, as then, we have the White House taking actions to destroy an effective agreement in the pursuit of the fantasy of a “better deal.” History will not judge these actions very kindly
Kimball, who later talked to GVS said Trump’s moves against the deal will garner less support from the international community. He said:”Trump failure to certify, combined with his call for this legislation — and his threat to pull out of the JCPOA — will not win support from the international community and will open the door for Iran to exceed the limits of the 2015 nuclear deal at some point. This historic blunder would put us once again on a path toward a war over Iran’s growing capacity to produce enriched uranium that could be used for nuclear weapons.”
Echoing the views of other analysts, Kimball was quick to point out the negative impact that the possible termination of the deal will have on the even-otherwise slim chances of negotiations with the reclusive regime in Pyongyang.
Kimball asserted:”In 2002, the U.S. prematurely unraveled the 1994 Agreed Framework that had frozen North Korea’s plutonium production program because some in the George W. Bush administration thought it was a bad deal. Now, as then, we have the White House taking actions to destroy an effective agreement in the pursuit of the fantasy of a “better deal.” History will not judge these actions very kindly. It is an enormous foreign policy blunder that will have negative ramifications for years to come.”
How will Iran respond?
When GVS asked about the likely response of Iran if further sanctions are imposed, Daryl G Kimball said it is not clear and depends primarily on how Europe will chart out its approach. He said:”The other countries that signed the Iran deal could continue to do business normally with Iran, or would they be affected (by possible new sanctions imposed by Congress or the sanctions on the Revolutionary Guard announced by Trump).”
It is widely believed that Trump’s singular focus on the deal, in spite of evidence which shows Iran’s compliance, will play in the hands of the radical elements in Tehran. The unilateral attempts to tinker with the deal will most likely have grievous consequences for the US and its allies in the region. The post- Revolution Iran conducts its foreign relations with a great deal of national zest and zeal. Fear of foreign meddling has contributed greatly toward its worldview and strategic thought; the deal was deemed a landmark because it was the best that the West could eke-out from the Islamic Regime; watchers and scholars are mindful of the dangers associated with pushing the regime further.
This GVS Special Report earlier appeared under the title: “Ruhani hits back at Trump: What does the new Iran strategy mean for Us-Iran Relations?”