Trump has no ‘choice’ but to extend nuclear deal: Araqchi

March 4, 2017

TEHRAN – A top Iranian diplomat underscored on Saturday that U.S. President Donald Trump is left with no other options but to extend the 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran though one of his most vocal riffs during the campaign trail was "rip it up”.

“Trump has no other choice but to extend BARJAM (the Persian acronym for the nuclear deal),” Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi was quoted as saying in an economic conference in Tehran.

“If he (Trump) tears it up, he has to bear the costs himself.”

Trump railed against the accord, which removed economic sanctions on Iran, on the campaign trail last year, at one point calling it “the worst deal ever negotiated.”

As the result of the deal, finalized with six world powers, Tehran re-engaged with the global economy in January 2016 as years of crippling international sanctions ended in exchange for the verified rolling back of much of its nuclear facilities.

It remains to be seen whether the new administration will work with Republicans and some hawkish Democrats to try and undo or rewrite parts of the deal, or undercut it by imposing a wide slate of new sanctions against Iran.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has called for a “full review” of the deal.

However, it shouldn’t take too long before Trump’s hostility toward the deal is put to the test.

Late May Trump has to extend the suspension of sanctions when he has to make a choice, according to Araqchi. But, there are signs indicating that the deal will endure, he added.

This is against a backdrop of verification by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is charged with regularly monitoring nuclear-related measures as enshrined in the deal.

In a quarterly report on the deal, the first since the inauguration of Trump, the UN atomic watchdog confirmed that Iran is acting in compliance with its commitments.

“As of 18 February 2017, the quantity of Iran’s uranium enriched up to 3.67 percent U-235 was 101.7 kg,” read part of the report, one-third of a permissible 300 kg cap.

On Thursday, Tillerson held private talks with IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano in the first direct meeting between the outfit monitoring the Iranian nuclear accord and a senior official from the Trump administration.

Nothing of the content has been revealed.

Other signatories to the deal have expressed strong opposition to a renegotiation of the deal.

Early February the European Union's foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini said the United States will remain committed to the "full implementation" of the nuclear deal.

"I was reassured by what I heard in my meetings on the intention to stick to the full and strict implementation of the agreement in all its part," Mogherini told France 24.

Back in December, Russia's Foreign Ministry highlighted that it would be unforgivable if the deal was lost, the Interfax news agency reported.

AK/PA

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