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Trump to be surprised if ditches Iran nuclear deal: Zarif

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif gestures during a press conference in Prague, the Czech Republic, November 11, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says Iran will have its “own options” in response to any violations of the 2015 nuclear deal, adding that the Islamic Republic will “surprise” US President-elect Donald Trump if he scraps the accord.

Zarif made the remarks in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, on Thursday while speaking with reporters on the sidelines of a special meeting of foreign ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

Asked about Trump’s campaign pledge to quash the nuclear deal, Zarif said, “Whatever he does to the nuclear deal, we’re not worried about it, because we have our own options.”

The deal, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was negotiated by Iran and the P5+1 group of countries – the US, Russia, China, Britain and France plus Germany – in July 2015.

The JCPOA, which was later enshrined in a legally-binding UN Security Council resolution, places certain limits on the Iranian nuclear activities in exchange for lifting nuclear-related sanctions.

However, the incoming US president vowed during his election campaign that he would “tear up” the JCPOA or try to renegotiate its terms. He also referred to the nuclear agreement as “the worst deal ever negotiated.”

Trump will be inaugurated as US president on January 20, a year after the JCPOA took effect. 

Zarif further said Washington cannot unilaterally decide to abrogate the JCPOA as it is an “international agreement,” and not a bilateral one between Iran and the US.

“As I’ve said before, President-elect Trump likes surprises and we will make him surprised,” said the Iranian foreign minister.

The top Iranian diplomat, however, said it is in the interest of all sides to honor their obligations under the accord.

On Tuesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said fresh negotiations on the JCPOA would have no meaning and there would be no new talks in this regard.

“The JCPOA is not a mutual agreement [but] is a multilateral agreement. Therefore, it will be meaningless if we wanted to negotiate on the JCPOA anew. There will be no new negotiations,” he said.

January 16 marked the first anniversary of the JCPOA’s implementation.

Earlier this week, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who chaired the P5+1 during the negotiations in the lead-up to the deal, said that the 28-nation bloc will “protect and preserve” Iran’s historic nuclear deal.

China also urged all signatories to the agreement with Iran to remain committed to their obligations.

China’s Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Hua Chunying expressed her country’s readiness to maintain close cooperation with all parties to ensure the “sustained, comprehensive and effective implementation” of the JCPOA.

In a similar stance, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson called for the accord to be maintained as it “has great merit.”

Russia has also said it would be unforgivable if the agreement was lost.

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