President Hassan Rouhani of Iran is warning President Donald J. Trump that if he backs out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Iran nuclear deal struck in 2015 under the Obama administration and six other nations, “no one will trust America again.” His country would also resume work on its nuclear capabilities.
Rouhani was referring to the possibility that the U.S. might withdraw certification of the Iran deal. In October, President Trump will decide whether to renew the JCPOA agreement. If he does not do so, sanctions — which were waived under the deal — could be placed upon Iran.
The JCPOA was struck between Iran and the United States, Russia, China, the UK, France, and Germany. Iran agreed that it would cut back on its nuclear development efforts in exchange for relief from most sanctions.
In an interview with NBC News, Rouhani told “Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt: “The exiting of the United States from such an agreement would carry a high cost, meaning that subsequent to such an action by the United States of America, no one will trust America again.”
Rouhani’s comments come just before President Trump spoke for the first time as president before the United Nations General Assembly. At that address, the president called Tehran (Iran’s capital) a “murderous regime” and the nuclear deal “an embarrassment to the United States.”
In his comments to Holt, Rouhani said that the deal was given great consideration and compiled with the input of all six countries.
“Every word was analyzed many times by countries involved before its ratification,” Rouhani said. “So, if the United States were to not adhere to the commitments and trample upon this agreement, this will mean that it will carry with it the lack of subsequent trust from countries towards the United States because the greatest capital that any country has is trust and credibility.”
Trump and his top diplomats say Iran has violated the JCPOA in spirit, if not in letter. In August, they imposed new economic sanctions on Iran, citing its development of ballistic missiles and the launching of a satellite-carrying rocket into space.
Angry, Iran threatened to pull out of the nuclear deal “within hours” if the United States imposes any further sanctions. Rouhani reportedly said in a live parliament broadcast at the time: “If America wants to go back to the experience (of imposing sanctions), Iran would certainly return in a short time — not a week or a month, but within hours — to conditions more advanced than before the start of negotiations.”
Trump is also reportedly weighing new measures against Iran’s support for militant groups, including its proxy forces in Iraq and Syria. In August, it was reported that Congress had obtained photographs which confirm that Iran was transporting militant soldiers to fight against U.S. forces on commercial flights, a violation of the Iran nuclear deal.
If the United States withdraws from the deal, Rouhani reportedly said his country’s commitments “would no longer exist.”
“One of the options and choices were one of our counterparts not to remain in the current framework would be to go back to previous activities,” Rouhani said. “This is one option. And that’s not difficult. We can easily go back to previous conditions if counterparts were to not live up to their commitments. But you do know fairly well that Iran will not be the initiator of this return to that path.”
He insisted Iran would resume “peace activities only,” and that they had no intention of leaving the agreement.
“So, we will never go towards production of nuclear weapons, just as in the past we never intended to go towards that path, nor did we ever. It has always been peaceful.”
Rouhani reportedly defended Iran’s use of ballistic missiles, according to NBC News. He said such missiles fall outside the nuclear agreement, and that his country would never sacrifice its “defensive missile capabilities.”
According to NBC:
He also complained that the Trump administration was lumping Iran in with North Korea by describing both countries as nuclear threats.
“We wish to have nuclear energy for peaceful uses just as today, in Arak, there is collaboration between America, China and Iran for the completion of the power plant in Arak,” Rouhani said of the industrial city where his country has been modifying a reactor pursuant to the nuclear agreement.
Rouhani also addressed Iran’s detention of a father and son, Baquer and Siamak Namazi, who have joint American and Iranian citizenship and were convicted of “collaborating with an enemy state.”
The Iranian president said Tehran does not recognize dual citizenship, and so the courts see the Namazis as Iranians only. And he said the government’s separation of powers prevented him from influencing a decision by the judiciary.
On Monday, speaking to CNN, Rouhani spoke about the president potentially withdrawing from the nuclear agreement, saying, “Exiting such an agreement would carry a high cost for the United States of America.”
Rouhani continued: “I do not believe Americans would be willing to pay such a high cost for something that will be useless for them.”
Under the terms of the JCPOA, Iran agreed to cut back on its nuclear development efforts. They’re capped at 5-percent uranium enrichment.
Under former President Barack Hussein Obama, the U.S. government said it would take twelve months for Iran to “gather enough fissile material to build a weapon.” The 2015 deal put monitoring in place before Iran could reduce the time it would take them to gather enough fissile material to become dangerous.
The Obama administration said that before the deal, the breakout time was “only two to three months.”
“Today, because of the Iran deal, it would take Iran 12 months or more,” the Obama administration said in January 2016. “And with the unprecedented monitoring and access this deal puts in place, if Iran tries, we will know and sanctions will snap back into place.”
After the U.S. slapped Iran with the sanctions in late August, Iran’s atomic chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, sent a warning to the United States, stating, “If we make the determination, we are able to resume 20 percent-enrichment in at most five days.”
Uranium enriched to 20 percent and above can be used in nuclear bombs.
According to some sources, Iran’s Aerospace Force commander, Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, from Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), made claims that they also have a new bomb, referring to it as the “father of all bombs.”
The moniker appears to be a reference to the U.S.’s most powerful non-nuclear bomb, affectionately referred to by service members as the “mother of all bombs” (MOAB). The U.S.’s 21,000-pound MOAB has a blast radius of one mile.
According to Iran Gen. Hajizadeh, their “father” bomb is a “highly destructive” 10-ton bomb and sits at their disposal. No additional details about the bomb’s capabilities were given.
Rouhani’s one-on-one interview with Lester Holt will air Tuesday night.
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