Nuclear Deal Not “Broken” Despite US Violations

Zarif says those who possess any intellect should be afraid of counter-measures that Iran would possibly take if the United States unilaterally withdraws from the international nuclear agreement
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
The foreign minister says Washington's failure to fulfill its obligations under the nuclear deal would set a "dangerous precedent" and no country will ever trust the US signature in any international agreement again

Despite the United States being in violation of the Iran nuclear deal, the agreement is still alive because of international support, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said, warning that Washington is setting a "dangerous" precedent.

In an exclusive interview with NBC News on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference last week, Zarif was asked if he feels US President Donald Trump is effectively already walking away from the accord, to which the minister responded, "We believe the United States is already in violation."  

"President Trump has tried to walk away from that deal from day one of his presidency, and he has done everything in bad faith to prevent Iran from enjoying the benefits of the deal," the minister said.

On the presidential campaign, then-candidate Trump criticized the agreement, calling it "the worst deal ever", and promised to tear it up.

However, Zarif noted that the deal is not a "broken" one because the other parties to the agreement have been trying to fulfill their obligations in spite of the US pressure.

Trump gave the nuclear agreement a final reprieve on January 12 but warned European allies and the US Congress they have to work with him to fix "the disastrous flaws" in the pact or face a US exit.

The deal was brokered in 2015 between Iran, the US, France, Germany, Britain, Russia, and China during the administration of former US president Barack Obama.   

***Dangerous Precedent

The top diplomat said Washington has failed in its efforts to isolate Iran and turn the world against it.

"Maybe at the end of the day, it will isolate itself and will also create something that is even more dangerous—a precedent [meaning] that no country will ever trust the United States' signature in any international agreement. That's dangerous considering the position of the United States."

The minister added that the nuclear deal is a commitment undertaken by the US government, not by an individual or an administration.

He also reiterated that Tehran would not be the first to renounce the landmark deal.

***Becoming an Outsider

In addition, Zarif said in an exclusive interview with Sputnik that the international community, except the Trump administration, Israel, and two or three Middle Eastern countries, understands that the nuclear pact is an international agreement and not a bilateral treaty between Iran and the US.  

"International agreements can't be altered unilaterally by one signatory," he noted in remarks published on Wednesday.  

If such an action becomes a generally accepted norm, it will become hard to conclude any agreements, he said, adding that countries that signed an agreement with the US would think of altering it after the change by the US government.

"Thus, the situation regarding the JCPOA goes beyond the agreement itself as it touches upon the international order. An international agreement will never be concluded if a country, even if it's a superpower, can neglect its liabilities and break the deal," the senior diplomat said, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the formal name of the accord.

Zarif argued that other countries would not support the US approach toward the nuclear agreement as they have a common interest.

"They stand against such an approach. It's clear that if the US decides to withdraw from the deal unilaterally or break the deal, it will isolate itself, becoming an outsider."

Iran regards this as a ground-breaking principle but we should see how the European countries resist the US approach to the deal, the minister added.

***Europe's Political Will

He said the Europeans have confirmed that they will use all available resources to preserve the agreement.

"Even during public speeches, European politicians say that, firstly, they won't agree on any revision of the deal; secondly, they stand for preserving their own interests and agreements within the JCPOA. We should see to what extent they will show their political will."

Asked what measures Iran would take if the US unilaterally withdraws from the deal, Zarif said, "Of course, we don't want to frighten anyone. However, we want everyone to think with a clear mind and pay particular attention when making decisions. Unfortunately, the US has never adhered to its liabilities within the JCPOA."

If the US breaks the deal unilaterally, Iran has measures that would not please the Americans, he said, adding, "The scenario depends on US wisdom. I will say one thing—those who possess any intellect should be afraid of Iran's possible measures."

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