Iran's foreign minister: Sanctions won't break us

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says it's in the interest of the United States to remain committed to the nuclear deal.

Elad Benari ,

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Thursday it was in the interest of the United States to remain committed to the nuclear treaty and stated that American sanctions “would not break” the people of Iran.

His comments came following the U.S. Senate’s vote last week to extend the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) for 10 years.

Senior Iranian officials have reacted angrily to the decision to extend the sanctions, saying that doing so goes against the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the official name of the nuclear agreement signed last year between Iran and six world powers.

Last week, Iranian lawmakers threatened to pass legislation to resume the country’s nuclear activities response to Congress extending the sanctions.

There have also been tensions surrounding U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s comments with regards to the Iran deal.

Trump said during his election campaign he would scrap the nuclear agreement, calling the pact "a disaster" and saying it could lead to a "nuclear holocaust".

Zarif, in Japan as part of an Asian tour that included India and China, told a seminar in Tokyo that while the agreement was multilateral and endorsed by the UN Security Council, this did not mean it might not be violated by the United States, which he said had a "less than respectable" history in respecting international laws.

"I'm not basing our hope on an illusion that people will respect international law out of their goodwill or good natures," he said, according to the Reuters news agency.

"I believe it is in the interests of the United States as well as the rest of the international community to respect this multilateral agreement," he added.

Sanctions against Iran had not worked in the past and would accomplish nothing if strengthened, especially since the other treaty partners would be unlikely to buy into them, said Zarif.

"Sanctions will harm us, but won't break us," he declared, according to Reuters.

Earlier this week, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani demanded that President Barack Obama not sign an extension of the U.S. sanctions on his country, saying Obama is "obliged" to let the sanctions expire.

The Iranian leader also promised a "prompt response" from Iran if the U.S. sanctions are extended.