President Hassan Rouhani of Iran claimed the Middle Eastern power “will continue to remain committed” to the multinational nuclear agreement the Obama administration brokered in 2015 – even if President Donald Trump terminates American involvement in the deal later this week.
“We are not worried about America’s cruel decisions … We are prepared for all scenarios and no change will occur in our lives next week,” Rouhani said Monday in a speech broadcast live on state television and reported by Reuters. “If we can get what we want from a deal without America, then Iran will continue to remain committed to the deal. What Iran wants is our interests to be guaranteed by its non-American signatories … In that case, getting rid of America’s mischievous presence will be fine for Iran.”
Trump seems poised to withdraw from the deal on Saturday, when a decision is due on whether to extend a suspension of sanctions against Iran – fulfilling a campaign trail pledge and satisfying hawkish Republicans in Congress who have long opposed the atomic agreement.
"It was insane. Ridiculous. It should have never been made," Trump said late last month, warning that Iranian officials are “going to have big problems, bigger than they’ve ever had before” if they restart their nuclear program.
“If they want to make sure that we are not after a nuclear bomb, we have said repeatedly that we are not and we will not be,” Rouhani said Monday. “But if they want to weaken Iran and limit its influence whether in the region or globally, Iran will fiercely resist.”
Rouhani’s announcement comes as Vice President Mike Pence is set to meet Monday with U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson – the third European ally to descend upon Washington, D.C., in recent weeks in an attempt to persuade U.S. officials to maintain the pact with Britain, China, France, Germany, Iran and Russia.
“It would be a mistake to walk away” from the deal, Johnson wrote Sunday in an op-ed for the New York Times ahead of meetings with senior Trump administration officials.
“It has weaknesses, certainly, but I am convinced they can be remedied,” Johnson wrote. “At this delicate juncture, it would be a mistake to walk away from the nuclear agreement and remove the restraints that it places on Iran.”
Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany attended a working lunch at the White House with Trump last month, during which she urged the president not to pull out of the deal.
“It is one piece of the mosaic – one building block, if you like – on which we can build up this structure,” Merkel said during a joint news conference with Trump. “We want to see what sort of decisions are made by our American partners.”
President Emmanuel Macron of France also visited the White House in April for the first state visit of the Trump administration, during which he lobbied the president not to abandon the deal. But speaking to journalists before leaving the U.S., Macron said his efforts were largely unsuccessful.
“I can hear. I seemed to constantly hear that he [Trump] had no serious desire to maintain or defend” the agreement, the French president said. “I consider that it’s a campaign pledge he made long ago . I don’t know. Rational analysis does not lead me to think he will stay in the deal.”
To help justify American withdrawal from the deal, Trump may invoke a spate of documents Israeli forces recently obtained from an Iranian “atomic archive.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel heralded the new intelligence as revelatory in a televised address last month, though the seized files predate the 2015 nuclear deal do not reveal a technical violation of the agreement.
“Iran lied. Big time. After signing the nuclear deal in 2015, Iran intensified its effort to hide its nuclear files,” Netanyahu said, arguing the deal was negotiated in bad faith.
“These files conclusively prove that Iran is brazenly lying when it said it never had a nuclear weapons program," he added. "This atomic archive clearly showed that Iran planned at the highest levels to continue work on nuclear weapons under different guises."
During a White House news conference following the Israeli leader’s remarks, Trump said: "That is just not an acceptable situation.”
The president also warned that Iran was not merely "sitting back idly," but declined to say whether he would pull out of the agreement. “We’ll see what happens," Trump said. "I’m not telling you what I’m doing, but a lot of people think they know.”