Iran will quit nuclear deal if European signatories do not offer solid guarantees: Khamenei

A handout picture provided by the office of Iran’s Supreme Leader on May 9, 2018 shows Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivering a speech during a meeting with students a day after the Donald Trump announced that the U.S. is pulling out of the nuclear deal with Tehran.   | Photo Credit: AFP

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday that Tehran would quit the landmark 2015 nuclear deal unless European signatories offered solid guarantees that trade relations would continue even after the United States' withdrawal from the pact.

In a televised speech, Ayatollah Khamenei said: “We hear that you want to continue the nuclear deal with the three European countries. I don’t have confidence in these three countries. If you don’t succeed in obtaining a definitive guarantee -- and I really doubt that you can -- at that moment, we cannot continue like this. If you want to conclude an agreement, obtain real guarantees, otherwise tomorrow they will do the same as the U.S..”

He was speaking a day after President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. was withdrawing from the deal, which had curbed Iran’s atomic programme in exchange for sanctions relief. 

The other parties — Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia — have opposed the move and indicated they wish to work with Tehran to preserve the accord. 

Ayatollah Khamenei said Iran’s government faced a big test to preserve “the dignity and the grandeur of the Iranian people”.

Warns against foreign leaders

He also warned against trusting foreign leaders. “Their words have no value. Today they say one thing and tomorrow another. They have no shame,” he said.

Despite his long-running mistrust of the U.S., Ayatollah Khamenei supported the deal when it was signed, even saying it could be the basis for further negotiations. But he soon turned against the agreement when it became clear that many of its benefits were still being blocked by the remaining U.S. sanctions. He said last year that it should be torn up if Washington pulled out.

European officials will “do everything” possible to protect the interests of companies working in Iran, which may now be exposed to new U.S. sanctions against the country, an official in the French presidency said on May 9.

French diplomats said Mr. Trump’s decision was expected despite efforts by President Emmanuel Macron to sway the U.S. leader. “Of course this decision is a worry, there are tensions,” a second official said. “It will be difficult to maintain this agreement in these conditions but we will do everything to find a way to protect this multilateral framework.”

At a press briefing, the diplomats countered criticism that Mr. Macron had been ineffective in lobbying Mr. Trump to respect the accord during a state visit to Washington at the end of April.

Trump did not inform Macron of decision beforehand

Despite both men boasting of their close relationship in public, Mr. Trump did not inform Mr. Macron of his choice beforehand, even during a phone call between the two men just hours before his announcement.

“It was our responsibility to do it [lobbying Mr. Trump to stay in the agreement],” the first French official said. “And we did it with full knowledge of the facts.”

He added that Mr. Macron would continue to play a crucial role in trying to salvage the agreement and reduce tensions in the Middle East.

“He’s the only leader who has the ability to talk to other leaders involved, even those that don’t talk to each other,” the official said. “That’s something, above all in this time of tensions, that is precious.”

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Printable version | May 3, 2021 3:20:03 AM |

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