As US NKorea plan to meet, Iran warns against Trump deal

Saul Bowman
April 23, 2018

Iran's atomic chief said here Saturday that Tehran would give a surprising response if the United States decides to scrap the 2015 global nuclear deal.

Tehran maintains its nuclear program was peaceful, and Zarif said if Iran resumed its nuclear activities, it would not be for the goal of developing a nuclear weapon.

"The reason that President Trump has not withdrawn from the deal over the past 15 months, in spite of the fact that he did not like the deal, has been the fact that everybody has advised the administration that this is not a bilateral agreement between Iran and the United States, and withdrawing from it would be seen by the worldwide community as an indication that the United States is not a reliable partner".

While Pompeo wouldn't explicitly say whether he will advocate to stay in - or pull out of - the Iran deal during lawmakers' questioning, he said that bolstering the nuclear pact would be a priority if he's confirmed, adding that fixing the deal is in the country's best interest.

Washington's desire to unilaterally renegotiate the landmark global nuclear accord with Tehran should be seen as a "very risky message" by anyone planning to engage in talks with the U.S., warned Iran's foreign minister. In January, Trump stated that he was certifying the JCPOA for the "last" time and warned he would pull out of the deal unless its "terrible flaws" were fixed.

The White House called for sanctions that would penalise Iran for ballistic missile tests, expand nuclear inspectors' access, and lengthen limits on Iranian nuclear activity.

Zarif spent two years working with former President Barack Obama's administration to establish the JCPOA, which granted Iran gradual sanctions relief, in exchange for evidence the country would disassemble its nuclear sites.

"The United States under the Trump administration has done everything it could to prevent Iran from benefiting from this agreement", Zarif charged.

The Foreign Minister warned other states against talks with the USA commenting on the planned summit of Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, the Leader of North Korea. "It was the first time we attacked live Iranian targets - both facilities and people", the official reportedly said.

When CBS News interviewed Zarif in October, he said "nobody will trust" the USA to engage in any long-term negotiations if the Iran deal blows up.

But he said Tehran's "probable" response should the United States quit the accord would be to restart production of enriched uranium - a key ingredient to the making of a nuclear weapon.

On Thursday, April 19, U.S. disarmament ambassador Robert Wood said the United States was having "intense" deliberations with its European allies ahead of the May 12 deadline when Washington's sanctions on Tehran would resume unless Trump decides otherwise, the Reuters report added. Zarif said USA "demands" are hampering dialogue.

Trump has opposed terms that would allow Iran to gradually reinstate its nuclear activities and accused Iran of violating the agreement. He noted that CIA Director Mike Pompeo recently said in testimony at his confirmation hearing to become secretary of state that Iran was not "racing towards a bomb".

Zarif said Saturday that "we will not make concessions, and I do not think people can put pressure on Iran".

At least five Iranians, all dual-American citizens or green-card holders, have been sentenced to prison in Iran on espionage-related charges, as has Chinese-American Princeton graduate student Xiyue Wang, The Associated Press reported.

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