Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday hailed the end of “tyrant” President Donald Trump’s “ominous reign,” which, he claimed, caused problems for the whole world.
Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran, which included crippling sanctions over the regime’s ballistic missile program and other rogue activities, followed his withdrawal from the Obama-led 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal. President-elect Joe Biden has vowed to reenter the deal.
A “tyrant’s era came to an end and today is the final day of his ominous reign,” Rouhani said in televised remarks.
“Someone for whom all of his four years bore no fruit other than injustice and corruption and causing problems for his own people and the world.”
Biden’s pick for secretary of state, Anthony Blinken, claimed Trump’s policies had made Iran “more dangerous.”
He added Washington sought to enter a “longer and stronger agreement.”
“If Iran comes back into compliance we would too,” Blinken told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday.
He added the matter of Iran’s ballistic missile program, which was not addressed in the 2015 accord, would eventually be dealt with but that at the moment “we’re a long way from there.” Blinken then said:
The reality is that the world doesn’t organize itself. When we’re not engaged, when we aren’t leading, then one of two things will probably happen: either some other country tries to take our place, but not in a way that advances our interests or values.
Or, maybe just as bad, no one does, and then you get chaos. Either way, that does not serve the American people. Humility and confidence should be the flip sides of America’s leadership coin.
Tehran has demanded the U.S. lift sanctions before it would comply.
The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, this week said his country is producing half a kilo of uranium enriched to 20 percent purity per day, constituting a clear violation of the nuclear deal which stipulates enrichment of no more than 3.67 percent.
His remarks follow an announcement two weeks ago that Rouhani had given the order to achieve 20 percent uranium purity at the underground Fordo facility.
Once 20 percent purity is reached, it is a short technical step for centrifuges to obtain weapons-grade 90 percent enrichment or even higher.
Britain, France and Germany, which comprise the European signatories on the deal, on Saturday warned Tehran has “no credible civilian use” for the uranium.
“The production of uranium metal has potentially grave military implications,” said the three foreign ministers in a joint statement, calling the enrichment the “latest planned violation.”
France’s Foreign Minister Jean Yves Le Drian on Saturday warned Iran aimed to acquire nuclear weapons and blamed Trump for allowing it to happen.
“The Trump administration chose what it called the maximum pressure campaign on Iran. The result was that this strategy only increased the risk and the threat,” Le Drian told the Journal du Dimanche newspaper.
“This has to stop because Iran and – I say this clearly – is in the process of acquiring nuclear [weapons] capacity,” he said.
Le Drian added it was of utmost urgency to “tell the Iranians that this is enough” and to bring both Iran and the United States back into the nuclear deal, from which the Trump administration withdrew in 2018.
Iran also informed the IAEA started work on uranium fuel for a research reactor in the capital of Tehran, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Wednesday, constituting the latest violation of the nuclear deal.
The moves are part of a wide-reaching campaign to avenge the November killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the mastermind behind the country’s nuclear weapons program, which Tehran blamed on Israel, as well as in response to Trump’s sanctions. The violations are also perceived as leverage for the incoming American administration to reenter the deal.