Iranian President Hassan Rouhani dismissed on Wednesday a proposal for a new “Trump deal” aimed at resolving a nuclear row, saying it was a “strange” offer and criticizing U.S. President Donald Trump for always breaking promises.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has praised Trump as a great dealmaker, called on Tuesday for the president to replace Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with major powers with his own new pact to ensure Tehran does not get an atomic weapon.
Trump said he agreed with Johnson that a “Trump deal” should replace the Iran nuclear deal. In a televised speech, Rouhani told Washington to return to the nuclear pact, which Washington abandoned in 2018.
The agreement calls for the lifting of international sanctions on Iran in return for curbs to its nuclear program. Since quitting, Trump has reimposed sanctions on Iran that have crippled its economy.
Tehran says it wants to keep the agreement but cannot do so indefinitely if it receives none of the promised economic benefits. It has gradually taken steps to reduce its compliance, which prompted Britain, France and Germany to formally accuse it on Tuesday of violating the terms.
“This Mr. Prime Minister in London, I don’t know how he thinks. He says let’s put aside the nuclear deal and put the Trump plan in action,” Rouhani said.
“If you take the wrong step, it will be to your detriment. Pick the right path. The right path is to return to the nuclear deal.”
Rouhani said Iran could reverse steps that exceeded restrictions in the agreement as soon as sanctions are lifted.
“What we have done is reversible. Whatever we do on the nuclear issue is under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA),” said Rouhani.
In its biggest step away from the agreement yet, Iran announced on Jan. 5 it would abandon all limitations on enriching uranium set down in the pact.
Britain, France and Germany reacted by activating a dispute mechanism in the deal on Tuesday, which eventually could lead to the reimposing of U.N. sanctions. Iran called this step a “strategic mistake”.
The European powers said they were acting to avoid a crisis over nuclear proliferation adding to an escalating confrontation in the Middle East.
Rouhani criticized the Europeans for reneging on promises to protect Tehran’s economy from U.S. sanctions.
The flare-up in nuclear diplomacy comes as military confrontation between Washington and Tehran has also reached a new peak.
The United States killed an Iranian general in a drone strike in Baghdad on Jan. 3. Tehran responded a week ago by launching missiles at U.S. targets in Iraq. No Americans were hurt, but hours later Iran shot down a Ukrainian civilian airliner in what its authorities have acknowledged as a tragic mistake, prompting anti-government protests at home.
Rouhani repeated Iran’s longstanding position that peace can come to the Middle East only when the United States withdraws from the region.
“American soldiers today are not secure in the region … We don’t want there to be insecurity in the world. We want you to go from here, but not with war. We want you to leave the region intelligently and it’s to your benefit.”