Javad Zarif: Iran won’t be bullied to renegotiate nuclear deal

Iran’s top diplomat says US bears sole responsibility for fate of deal, as another official warns of terminating pact.

Mevlut Cavusoglu - Sergey Lavrov - Javad Zarif meeting in Moscow
Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Iran will not renegotiate the landmark nuclear deal signed in 2015 [File: Anadolu]

Iran will not be bullied by the United States into renegotiating the multilateral nuclear deal, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said, as another senior diplomat warned that US withdrawal from the pact would result in its termination.

“Iran stands firm in the face of futile attempts at bullying,” Zarif said in a recorded message on Thursday. 

“If the US continues to violate the agreement, or if it withdraws altogether, we will exercise our right to respond in a manner of our choosing,” he said referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

He also rejected efforts to renegotiate the deal, saying: “We will neither outsource our security, nor will we renegotiate or add on to a deal we have already implemented in good faith.” 

Zarif added that the US “will have to accept responsibility” for the consequences of not honouring its commitment to the deal.

Iran’s most senior diplomat issued the statement as Iran’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, Hamid Baeidinejad, said Tehran is “ready to go back to the previous situation” if Washington ditches the deal.

“When the United States is out of the deal, it means that there is no deal,” he told CNN on Wednesday.

Ditch the deal?

Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, also said on Thursday one of Iran’s options in response to US President Donald Trump’s threat is to retreat.

Velayati said Iran would not allow any change to the deal, according to Iran’s Mehr news agency.

Trump faces a May 12 deadline to decide whether to keep the US commitment on the nuclear deal – renew the agreement’s prescribed sanctions relief for Iran – or withdraw from it.

He has repeatedly threatened to ditch the deal if the changes he has demanded are not implemented.

Under the deal signed in Vienna in 2015, Iran scaled back its uranium enrichment programme and promised not to pursue nuclear weapons. In exchange, international sanctions were lifted, allowing it to sell its oil and gas worldwide. However, secondary US sanctions remain.

Since Trump came to office, he has taken several steps to block the deal. In October, he refused to certify that Iran is living up to the accord. He also targeted several Iranian businesses and individuals with new sanctions.

On January 12, Trump announced he was waiving the US sanctions for the “last time”. He said if his demands to “fix the deal” were not met within 120 days, the US will withdraw from the deal on or before May 12.

On Thursday, Zarif said there would be no renegotiation of the deal, putting it in real estate terms as if to address the US president directly. 

“When you buy a house and move your family in, or demolish it to build a skyscraper, you cannot come back two years later and try to renegotiate the price.”

Source: Al Jazeera