Iran: Will work to save deal, or restart nuclear program

Iran: Will work to save deal, or restart nuclear program

May 9 (UPI) — Angered by President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the nuclear agreement, Iranian lawmakers have vowed to restart their nuclear program if Tehran’s needs aren’t met.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday he hoped European countries, China and Russia would work — without the United States — to preserve the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. However, Rouhani warned it’s possible Iran could once again start its nuclear program.

“If you want to have a deal, we need practical guarantees otherwise they will do the same as the U.S.,” Rouhani said. “If they can’t give definitive guarantees, it won’t be possible to continue.”

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said Trump lied “at least ten times” in his speech Tuesday, saying the U.S. president made “a damn mistake.”

Other Iranian lawmakers responded by shouting “death to America,” and set fire to a U.S. flag at Parliament in Tehran.

One lawmaker, Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, said Trump might lack the “mental capacity” to understand the Obama-era deal.

“Under the current situation, Iran has no commitment whatsoever to be put in a position it was in the past as regards the nuclear issue,” Larijani added. “I am not sure whether the European signatories of the deal will fulfill their promises.”

As part of withdrawing from the pact, Trump said the United States will impose “the highest level of economic sanctions” on Iran, including punishment for any country that aids Iran with its nuclear program.

The multilateral agreement was brokered in July 2015 by former President Barack Obama’s administration, China, Russia, Germany, France, Britain and the European Union — all of whom have expressed disappointment at Trump’s withdraw Tuesday.

“The international reach of U.S. sanctions makes the U.S. the economic policeman of the planet, and that is not acceptable,” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Wednesday in an interview on France Culture radio.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the deal is “not dead,” despite Trump’s move.

“There’s an American withdrawal from the deal but the deal is still there,” Le Drian said, noting a scheduled meeting among France, Britain, Germany and Iran on Monday.

In his speech Tuesday, Trump left the door open to continue working with Tehran and finding a better way forward that benefits both nations.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Mass vowed Wednesday to save the deal, saying it’s “working.”

“It is not at all clear what, in the United States’ view, could take the place of the nuclear agreement to prevent Iran verifiably from producing nuclear weapons,” Mass said.

An influential German business association, the Federation of German Industries, called upon the EU to protect European companies from what it called an “unlawful” reapplication of U.S. sanctions.

Russia and China had confirmed their “unwavering support” for the JCPOA ahead of Trump’s remarks. Both emphasized the “urgent necessity for all parties” to “rigorously” adhere to its terms.

If the deal is saved, it’s not yet clear which government will fill the void left by the United States.

“China is the country most likely to fill the shoes of the U.S.,” Alex Vatanka, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, told Business Insider. “It might not be a bad move for China to speak up and present themselves as the one actor that can come in — together with the Europeans and the Russians — to fill the vacuum left by the U.S.”