‘Washington will pay high price if it pulls out of Iran nuclear deal’ – Rouhani
In an interview to CNN ahead of the annual session of the UN General Assembly on Monday, the Iranian leader warned the US that quitting the deal would “yield no results for the United States but at the same time it will generally decrease and cut away and chip away at international trust placed in the United States of America.”
Rouhani believes such a decision to be essentially pointless, given that “exiting such an agreement would carry a high cost” for the US, a step that he said ordinary Americans would not accept.
“I do not believe Americans would be willing to pay such a high cost for something that will be useless for them,” he said.
The Americans will find it hard to persuade other countries such as North Korea that it is worth negotiating with them if they scrap the deal unilaterally, Rouhani argued.
“Why would the North Koreans waste their time to sit around the table of dialogue with the United States, because they would think perhaps after years of talks and a potential agreement the next US administration could step over or pull out of the agreement,” he said.
If the White House decides to follow through on its repeated threats to disown the deal struck by the previous administration, Iran would ensure the US faces an appropriate response “probably within a week,” Rouhani said, adding that as Trump's “actions and reactions and policies are somewhat unpredictable,” potential countermeasures have been well thought out in advance.
“If the US wants to increase tensions, it will see the reaction from Iran,” he said.
Rouhani’s comments come shortly after Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, issued a warning saying that Tehran would not tolerate US attempts to undermine the deal, vowing a strong response to “any wrong move” from Washington.
Previously, Rouhani asserted that if Washington slaps Iran with new nuclear-related sanctions, Tehran will be ready to scrap the deal within “not a week or a month but within hours” and return to its nuclear program.
Trump has repeatedly referred to the nuclear pact, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the “worst deal ever negotiated,” while openly expressing his ultimate desire to bring it down.
Following a meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a vociferous critic of the Iranian deal, and Trump on Monday, the former said that he and the US leader share the same approach to the agreement.
“We’re in agreement with the Americans that this agreement is terrible. There’s a clear American interest, which was conveyed to me explicitly, about the desire to fix the problems in the agreement,” Netanyahu said, as cited by Haaretz. He noted that while there are differences of opinions within the US administration on a possible withdrawal, Trump appeared to agree with him that “the agreement must either be changed or scrapped.”
“The president’s starting point regarding Iran is identical to ours,” he said.
Ahead of the meeting, Trump hinted that he would reach a final decision whether to certify that Iran is abiding by the agreement or not before Congress “very soon.”
The 2015 nuclear deal that envisions a nuclear-related sanctions waiver for Iran in return for curbs on its nuclear program has been hanging in the balance, with Trump hinting last week that he is not poised to recertify the deal before Congress by October 15, the next 90-day deadline.
“[Iran] have violated so many different elements, but they’ve also violated the spirit of that deal. And you will see what we’ll be doing in October. It will be very evident,” Trump said Thursday.
Despite the White House’s persistent claims that Iran is violating the deal if not in letter then in spirit, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN watchdog monitoring the deal, reaffirmed Iran’s full compliance with its provisions in a report in early September.
“The nuclear-related commitments undertaken by Iran under the JCPOA are being implemented,” IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said as the IAEA’s 61st General Conference kicked off in Vienna on Monday, adding that Iran is “subject to the world’s most robust nuclear verification regime.”
Meanwhile, the EU has shown concern at Trump’s stance on the deal, with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini telling journalists in New York on Monday that the achievement in striking the agreement belongs to the international community and not just the US.
“It is not an agreement between two countries – it is a commitment undertaken by the entire international community on one side and Iran on the other, supported by a resolution of the UN Security Council,” Mogherini said in a statement earlier to NBC News, calling it “a good and robust agreement that serves the interests of all parties.”
The EU will make sure that all sides of the agreement stick to their obligations, Mogherini said.