Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says the United States’ potential withdrawal from a multilateral nuclear deal with Iran would constitute a clear non-performance of contractual obligations by Washington.
Speaking at a meeting of Iranian expatriates in New York, where he is to attend the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), President Rouhani said Iran would give “the due response” to any such violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
“Withdrawing from the JCPOA,” he said, “would mean trampling on a clear political obligation that a government has. This is nothing to be proud of.”
He said Iranian people have always lived up to their word throughout history but added that Iran would honor its obligations under the JCPOA as long as the other side honors its.
“We will never initiate a violation of the international agreement, but if the other side wishes to assault the rights of the Iranian people, Iran will certainly give the due response,” the Iranian president said.
The JCPOA was struck in July 2015, after some 22 months of negotiations between Iran and six other countries. Iran agreed under the deal to apply certain limits to its nuclear program, and its partners — the US, Russia, China, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom — agreed in return to terminate a series of sanctions against the Islamic Republic, including those unilaterally imposed by individual countries.
But ever since the presidency in the US switched to the incumbent, Donald Trump, a year after the implementation of the Iran deal had begun, his administration has been actively seeking a pretext to withdraw.
It has found none, but has nevertheless signaled that it may not offer to the US Congress verification of Iranian compliance necessary to renew waivers of unilateral, American sanctions against Iran at a next deadline in mid-October. The Congress would then have 60 days to decide whether to continue to waive the sanctions, although it would be unlikely to do so without a White House verification.
Iran has said it would work to sustain the JCPOA but has contingency plans in the event of a US withdrawal. On Sunday, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei warned that Iran would respond to any “wrong move” concerning the JCPOA.
In New York, President Rouhani said “whether the US is happy or worried,” the JCPOA is to stay in political history as a sign of how complex international issues can be resolved via dialog.
During his stay in America, the Iranian president plans to meet world leaders and possibly discuss with them the JCPOA and the US stance.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is also in New York, and a meeting of foreign ministers from the parties to the JCPOA may take place.
Meanwhile, all the other parties to the deal have voiced determination to keep the agreement in place.