TEHRAN (defapress) – Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar said Tehran would remain committed to its obligations under the JCPOA even if the US decides to leave the international nuclear deal.
News ID: 65875
Publish Date: 09September 2017 - 13:16
"If the United States pulls out of the agreement, but the
rest of the countries stay committed -- namely Britain, France, Germany, China,
Russia -- then Iran would most probably stick with the commitments to the
agreement without the US,” Salehi said in an interview with the leading German
weekly news magazine, Der Spiegel, on Friday.
Iran and the Group 5+1 (Russia, China, the US, Britain,
France and Germany) reached the 159-page nuclear agreement, also known as the
Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, in July 2015 and implemented it in January
US President Donald Trump has called the agreement "the
worst deal ever” and repeatedly threatened to scrap it.
Since the historic deal was signed in Vienna, the IAEA has
repeatedly confirmed the Islamic Republic’s compliance with its commitments
under the JCPOA, but some other parties, especially the US, have failed to live
up to their undertakings.
Following is the full text of the interview.
DER SPIEGEL: President Hassan Rouhani recently threatened
that Iran's nuclear program could be resuscitated within hours if the United
States were to impose new sanctions. How serious is this warning?
Salehi: We are continuously assessing if this agreement
benefits us, or if the price is too high to stay in the deal. If the United
States pulls out of the agreement, but the rest of the countries stay committed
-- namely Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia -- then Iran would most
probably stick with the commitments to the agreement without the US. But if the
US leaves the treaty and Europe follows, then this deal will certainly collapse
and Iran will go back to what it was before and, technically speaking, to a
much higher level. As a person who has taken part in these negotiations, I
wouldn't like to see that happen.
DER SPIEGEL: So far, President Rohani has not been able to
deliver many economic successes, largely because the U.S. is pushing Western
banks not to work with Iran. How do you intend to surmount this challenge?
Salehi: The US is trying to poison the business environment.
It discourages big banks and companies from working with Iran. It is
fearmongering. But in reality, they cannot accomplish much. There is a lot of
rhetoric, yes. If the US turns those words into real action, we will then have
to face a very different situation.
DER SPIEGEL: What does this mean?
Salehi: If the US is refusing to waive the sanctions
connected to the nuclear activities of Iran, it would be significant
noncompliance on their side.
DER SPIEGEL: If the US quits and others follow, Iran would
go back to developing its nuclear program, but also to a nontransparent,
black-market economy. It would once again be isolated and in a constant
struggle with the Western powers.
Salehi: That is almost true. As I said, if the nuclear
agreement is breached, economically we would face some difficulties, but
politically we would be gaining. We would tell our youth, don't trust them
anymore, we tried once and showed flexibility to reach a nuclear agreement. The
International Atomic Energy Agency has acknowledged our full compliance with
this treaty, but the Americans broke the deal. Don't forget, the isolation
which was imposed on us also brought us together as a nation and forced us to
stand on our own feet. In addition, in the field of scientific achievement we
have made it to the top of the list. I think our partners in this treaty have
more to lose than we do.
DER SPIEGEL: What do you mean?
Salehi: If the nuclear agreement collapses, there will be no
chance for a settlement of North Korea's nuclear issue. Pyongyang would say,
well, they broke the nuclear deal with Tehran, how can we trust them? It would
also undermine the integrity of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. There
will be a tsunami of outrage coming from all countries interested in developing
peaceful nuclear technology.
DER SPIEGEL: As you know, the problem with Iran wasn't the
peaceful use of nuclear technology, but rather the aspirations to build an
atomic bomb. Some weeks ago, Iran tested a new ballistic missile. Is this wise
timing amid growing tensions?
Salehi: If the US considers this an issue, then it is their
problem. Nowhere in the nuclear agreement does it say that Iran does not have
the right to develop its missile capacity. We are exercising our rights and it
is the other side that is trying to interpret this as a provocative act. Every
day for the last 38 years, we've dealt with the U.S. or other countries issuing
different accusations against Iran. One day we are not "democratic
enough," the next day it is about "human rights" or "false
DER SPIEGEL: Isn't there some truth in that?
Salehi: There are countries in the region which have no
elections at all, nor basic rights for their citizens -- where, for example,
women can't even drive. But because they are in the political orbit of the
West, especially the US, they are being left alone.
DER SPIEGEL: How does Tehran view the US president's close
cooperation with Saudi Arabia?
Salehi: From what I have gathered, the US is in a state of
confusion. Even the European allies of the US do not know which strategy
President Trump is pursuing. This confusion is not directed against us alone,
but it has negatively impacted the US administration's governance and its
allies in the region. For example, recently Qatar.
DER SPIEGEL: Although the emirate is home to the US's most-important
military base in the Persian Gulf, Donald Trump allowed a Saudi Arabia-led
group of states to isolate Qatar.
Salehi: Suddenly you wake up and you find out that Qatar has
been cut off from the military alliance of the Persian Gulf States, the Persian
Gulf Cooperation Council. I really can't say that Qatar was a friend. In the
case of Syria and in other regional conflicts it has always been on the other
side. But now we are providing them with access to airspace, access to the sea
and roads, because we are their only outlet. True political practice requires
wisdom and a rational approach. That is why we are making these concessions to
DER SPIEGEL: This could make Saudi Arabia's leaders even
more furious. They already see themselves as surrounded by Iran.
Salehi: I lived in Saudi Arabia for four years, I know many
of their officials. We always had our different views, but also enjoyed a
relatively good relationship in different domains, such as economics, trade and
tourism -- visitors from Iran going to Saudi Arabia and vice versa. The
Iranians do not have any designs on the land or the wealth of others. We have
our own ample gas and oil, and vast land.
DER SPIEGEL: Despite that, the relationship between Riyadh
and Tehran appears to be broken.
Salehi: After King Abdullah passed away and the new king
took on his role, the relationship deteriorated swiftly. Mostly because of the
preposterous illusion that Iran has surrounded them. Under this illusion, they
want to conquer Yemen to create an opening, but they just dug themselves into a
deeper hole and don't know how to get out again.
DER SPIEGEL: It doesn't look like Iran is willing to do much
to help them to out of this situation.
Salehi: As our officials have stated, we are ready and
willing to help. But Saudi Arabia needs to come to understand the realities on
the ground, and I think they will eventually change course and even come to the
realization that Iran can be a good, trusted friend. When I took on my
responsibility as foreign minister seven years ago, Saudi Arabia and Turkey had
been my first priority. Together with Iran, these three countries can bring
security and stability to the region. I personally would very much like to see
our relationship with Saudi Arabia be back to what it was before and even
DER SPIEGEL: Why do you think so few of your political
counterparts believe you?
Salehi: Look at it rationally: If we have a good relationship
with Saudi Arabia, we benefit on many levels, economically and in trade,
because our lifeline is the Persian Gulf. How can we secure the situation in
the Persian Gulf? Only if these countries come together in mutual agreement.