US President Donald Trump tweeted May 7 that he will state his decision about the fate of nuclear deal with Iran today, May 8 — four days before the May 12 deadline to sign sanctions waivers as part of the accord. In apparent response, Iranian officials have stated that they will remain within the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) if Europe cooperates with Tehran.
Predicting the US president’s decision, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council stated that Trump may not destroy the deal in order to let the Europeans negotiate more concessions from Iran.
Ali Shamkhani told Hamshahri newspaper May 8, “Trump and the US administration pursue three parallel strategies regarding the JCPOA. One minimalist strategy is … making the JCPOA useless for Iran. The second strategy is to get more concessions from the Islamic Republic of Iran through the JCPOA. And the third strategy is destroying the JCPOA.”
Shamkhani added, “The bigger mistake of the Europeans would be to go along with Trump’s second strategy. … There is the possibility that Trump relies on [European] cooperation, and stays away from the third strategy.”
However, the Supreme National Security Council of Iran warned that the second strategy will also lead to the collapse of the deal.
In brief remarks in a meeting with executives at an Iranian company, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif stated May 8 that if Trump scraps the JCPOA, he'll end up with a worse deal.
He then added that if the United States withdraws from the nuclear agreement, Washington “will never reach such a deal” again.
Iran’s deputy parliament speaker, Ali Motahari, told a group of reporters May 8 that Tehran should give the Europeans a month or two to provide strong guarantees that they will resist pressure from the United States. “This guarantee must [ensure] that Europeans stand up to the Americans’ fines … and support their banks. If this happens, it is worthwhile for Iran to stay in the JCPOA. This is a victory for Iran as it has created a gap between Europe and America,” said Motahari.
Abolfazl Hasan Beigi, the deputy chairman of parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, stated that if the other members of the P5+1 (UK, France, Russia, China and Germany) don’t succumb to US demands and remain in the JCPOA, Iran will also stay in the deal.
He warned the US government May 8, “If Trump withdraws from the JCPOA, Iran will reopen the [reactor] core of the Arak plant and will produce centrifuges.” Iran removed the crucial component in its nascent Arak heavy water reactor in compliance with its obligations under the nuclear deal.
Meanwhile, foreign policy analyst Hassan Beheshtipour told the local press May 8, “If US withdrawal from the JCPOA is tantamount to implementing secondary sanctions, that is equivalent to the JCPOA becoming useless, and Iran’s response will be harsh.” He added, however, “If the European Union continues its cooperation with Iran, and only the US doesn’t cooperate, the situation would be [different].”
Beheshtipour continued, “Exiting the [Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)] is the last resort for Iran in the face of [an American] withdrawal from the JCPOA, which is the worst scenario. … Iran has the right to leave the NPT, but leaving the NPT isn’t tantamount to making a bomb, and [also] doesn’t mean Iran cutting ties with the [International Atomic Energy Agency].”
Fereidoon Majlesi, a former Iranian diplomat, told a local news outlet that the US president is pursuing a strategy that is in the interest of Iranian hard-liners. “We have now reached the phase that we may consider the final and favorite solution of hard-liners inside Iran, and we are getting close to it step by step, and that is the killing of the JCPOA,” Majlesi said May 8.
Continue reading this article by registering at no cost and get unlimited access to:
- The award-winning Middle East Lobbying - The Influence Game
- Archived articles
- Exclusive events
- The Week in Review
- Lobbying newsletter delivered weekly