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Trump's Bullying Will Meet Backlash

Trump's Bullying Will Meet BacklashTrump's Bullying Will Meet Backlash

Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says US President Trump’s threat of sanctions against European countries continuing to do business in Iran is “unprecedented”, comparing his behavior to that of a “bully”.

He also said it is “still a possibility” that Iran could restart its nuclear program.

“The United States is asking countries to violate international law and is telling countries and companies that if they observe the law they'll be punished,” Zarif told CBS News’ John Dickerson in an interview on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly last week. 

“This is probably unprecedented, even for a bully, in a town to go to the sheriff’s office and tell them, ‘If you try not to drop people, you are going to be punished’.”

Trump has previously threatened that “anyone doing business with Iran will not be doing business with the US” and imposed new sanctions on the country after withdrawing the US from the 2015 nuclear agreement in May.

Zarif said the US continues to push allies to act in a “lawless way”, which he warned was unsustainable.

“This policy is going to have a backlash. The international community is not going to accept somebody to come and just [give] orders,” he said. “We will continue to work with the Europeans. Certainly, some European companies have withdrawn from Iran because of the fear of punishment by the United States.”

Zarif said Trump, who chaired a UN Security Council meeting last week on nonproliferation, has now isolated the US by pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal. 

“I think it’s not a sign of strength. He’s making all those statements. He convened a meeting of the Security Council to bash Iran, and at the end of the day, 14 out of 15 members of the Security Council bashed his decision to walk away from JCPOA. So unfortunately, the United States has managed to isolate itself in the world,” Zarif said, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the nuclear deal’s formal name. 

Zarif maintained that Iran has kept up its end of the 2015 Iran deal, specifically by not continuing to build out their nuclear program. 

>Pullout Still a Possibility 

“The IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is charged with verification of what we do, has reported twice since President Trump left JCPOA that Iran has remained faithful,” Zarif said.

However, he suggested that there is “still a possibility” that Iran could resume nuclear activity at much greater speeds in response to Trump’s pullout of the deal. 

The foreign minister had warned on CBS’ “Face the Nation” in April that such a response could be on the cards, if the US resumed sanctions against his country.

During the interview that aired on Sunday, Iran’s top diplomat also said comments by President Hassan Rouhani comparing Trump to the Nazis was a critique of Trump's immigration policies.

In his speech to the UN General Assembly last week, Rouhani said Trump had “xenophobic tendencies resembling a Nazi disposition”.

Zarif cited Trump’s long-promised border wall and a ban on travel from Muslim-majority countries as policies that demonstrated a “Nazi disposition”. 

“All of these are reminiscent of the type of mentality,” said Zarif. “He’s the man who separated children from their mothers.”

Zarif also faulted Trump for his harsh rhetoric toward Iran, including at the UN.

“If you just put the insults that President Trump has had against Iran, whatever President Rouhani says cannot even get close to what he has done with us,” Zarif said. 

Regarding a potential meeting between Rouhani and Trump, Zarif said there was “no chance” of it happening.

Zarif said Trump’s meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un produced more of a photo opportunity than an actual outcome. 

“Negotiations are based on respect, based on an expectation that the other side will comply with its decisions that it’s undertaken under the negotiations,” Zarif said.

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