US Failure to Scuttle JCPOA Indicates Deal's Strength

US Failure to Scuttle JCPOA Indicates Deal's StrengthUS Failure to Scuttle JCPOA Indicates Deal's Strength

President Hassan Rouhani said the failure of US President Donald Trump in fulfilling his electoral pledge to ditch the landmark 2015 nuclear deal indicates the deal's strength and toughness.

Speaking in a program broadcast live by state TV on Tuesday night, the president said the nuclear accord has produced "indestructible gains" for the nation, his official website reported.

"We settled a big problem, which they were portraying as an international crisis, at the negotiating table and this is a diplomatic gain that will never disappear," said Rouhani, who has championed the pact as his administration's signature achievement.

"We proved it was not us that was lying but it was our enemies and we were not pursuing nuclear weapons," he said.

"The US has spared no opportunity in the past year to dismantle the nuclear deal, but it has failed to do so. This means that it is a very robust agreement that cannot be easily scrapped," said Rouhani, noting that the US has been sidelined in the international scene.

The deal faces strong opposition from Trump, whose stance is at odds with that of the other signatories to the pact, including the United States' European allies.

Trump, who has repeatedly hammered the deal as the "worst deal ever" and an "embarrassment" to the US, decertified Iran's compliance with the deal last month.

However, he stopped short of scrapping the accord, saying he might withdraw Washington from the deal if the US Congress could not come up with a solution to fix its "many serious flaws".

Rouhani said his foreign policy of constructive engagement with the world and promotion of regional peace has brought major benefits for Iran and the region.

"The basis of our policy is to settle problems through dialogue and avoid confrontation, so we can secure the region from sources of instability," he said.

He stressed that both "diplomacy and military power" were indispensible to realizing his foreign policy goals.

Explaining the fruits of this policy, Rouhani pointed to Iran's anti-terror cooperation with Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Russia, which led to the collapse of the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group this month, and Tehran's role in reducing tensions between Baghdad and Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government in the wake of its September secession poll.

The Iranian president said his policy of de-escalation in foreign relations has also led to improved ties with big members of the international community such as Europe and Russia, as well as Iran's neighboring states such as Turkey, Iraq and Pakistan.

"We may have issues with one or two countries like Saudi Arabia, but they are complicating the matters [not us]," he said.

In his first term, Rouhani went to great lengths to heal widening fissures with Saudi Arabia, which accuses Iran of aspiring to dominate the Middle East.

But time was not so kind to him, as the sudden rise to power of Salman bin Abdul-Aziz made the tough job of warming Tehran-Riyadh relations even harder.

King Salman has adopted an aggressive policy toward Iran since early 2015, employing checkbook diplomacy to tilt regional states toward itself and isolate Tehran. Frequently, Rouhani's top diplomat, Mohammad Javad Zarif, invited Saudis to embrace dialogue for settling differences, but his overtures were spurned by Riyadh.

The president said the Saudi monarchy is demonizing Iran to kill two birds with one stone. "The first reason is to mask its failures in the region. Saudis have been unsuccessful in Qatar, Iraq, Syria and recently Lebanon," he said.

Rouhani said the other reason for Saudis' bellicosity is to deflect attention from their domestic troubles.

"Internal differences and tensions have aggravated inside Saudi Arabia, so they are trying to portray a country as an enemy to cover up their internal problems," he said.

King Salman severed relations with Iran in January 2016, using as excuse attacks on Saudi diplomatic premises in Tehran and Mashhad, which were condemned by Iranian officials who prosecuted the perpetrators. With Riyadh opting to keep the door on dialogue with Tehran closed, tensions between the two countries remain at an all-time high.


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