US Will Pay High Cost If It Quits Nuclear Deal

Given the unpredictability of Trump’s actions and reactions, Iran has thought long and hard about its response to the possibility of US walking away from the nuclear accord
President Hassan Rouhani speaks in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour aired on Sept. 18.	President Hassan Rouhani speaks in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour aired on Sept. 18.

President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday the United States will pay a "high cost" if US President Donald Trump makes good on his threats to unilaterally quit the Iran nuclear deal.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with CNN in New York, Rouhani said, "Exiting such an agreement would carry a high cost for the United States of America, and I do not believe Americans would be willing to pay such a high cost for something that will be useless for them."

Rouhani said such an action by the Trump administration "will yield no results for the United States but at the same time it will generally decrease and cut away and chip away at international trust placed in the Unites States."

The US extended sanctions relief for Iran last week as part of the 2015 nuclear agreement, which Trump has described as "the worst deal ever".

It was mainly a procedural move, but it was significant, as reimposing nuclear-related sanctions could lead to Iran ending its compliance with the deal and reverting back to rapid uranium enrichment, something Iran has threatened to do if the US reneges on its end of the bargain.

The next major deadline comes in October, when Trump will decide whether to certify that Iran is complying with the agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. If he does not, Congress has 60 days to decide whether to reimpose sanctions waived under the deal.

Rouhani said Iran was ready to respond to the possibility of Trump walking away from the agreement.

"Given that Mr. Trump's actions and reactions and policies are somewhat unpredictable, we have thought long and hard about our reactions," he said.

He said any riposte from Iran would come "quite swiftly" and "probably within a week", adding that "if the US wants to increase tensions, it will see the reaction from Iran."

Reelected by a popular vote for a second presidential term in May, Rouhani was a key architect of the 2015 nuclear agreement with the United States, the European Union and other partners.

The deal led to the lifting of most international sanctions against Iran in return for curbs on its nuclear program.

The agreement is expected to feature high on the agenda at this week's UN General Assembly in New York, which both Rouhani and Trump are attending.

On Thursday, Trump again attacked the agreement, calling it "one of the worst deals I have ever seen."

"You'll see what I'm going to be doing very shortly in October," Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One.

He promised the US is "not going to stand for what they [Iran] are doing", alleging that Iran has "violated so many different elements" of the deal.

He promised his upcoming action on the deal in October would be "very evident".

In the meantime, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN's nuclear watchdog, says Iran is complying with its commitments under the deal, including inspections.

***Replicable Experience


Rouhani warned of the diplomatic precedent that would be set by pulling out of the Iran agreement, especially with regard to North Korea.

"I think what the Iranian experience shows is a good experience that can be replicated elsewhere and executed elsewhere," he said.

"But keep in mind please that if the United States wishes to withdraw from the JCPOA, why would the North Koreans waste their time to sit around the table of dialogue with the United States, because they would think perhaps after years of talks and a potential agreement, the next US administration could step over or pull out of the agreement."

On the war in Syria, Rouhani stopped short of declaring an outright victory for the Syrian government, which Iran has supported on the ground, but described Tehran's intervention as a success.

"Our actions were successful and today we are witnessing the final stages of the defeat of ISIS [an acronym for the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group]," he said, before calling for eventual elections in Syria.

"The future of Syria will be determined by talks and ultimately the opposition must reach an agreement with the government; and the will of people [through] the ballot box should ultimately determine what happens."

CNN also asked Rouhani about Iran's position regarding the current crisis in Myanmar that has been accused by the UN of ethnically cleansing Rohingya Muslims.

The president said Myanmar should be condemned and that aid should be forwarded to Bangladesh, where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees have fled in recent weeks.

Rouhani shared concerns that IS and Al-Qaeda fighters in Syria and Iraq could move across to Bangladesh and Myanmar to exploit the Rohingya crisis.

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