Iran's foreign minister says nuclear deal is still alive, pushes back against 'Trump deal'

Mohammed Zarif pushes back on criticism of Iran's violations of nuclear deal, expresses concern over UK's backing for 'Trump plan'.

David Rosenberg ,

Mohammad Javad Zarif
Mohammad Javad Zarif

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif defended the 2015 Iran nuclear deal on Wednesday, and warned that its replacement by a deal negotiated by President Donald Trump would be unlikely to last.

Speaking at a conference in New Delhi Wednesday, Zarif pushed back on criticism of Iran’s violations of the nuclear deal, blaming the US for ‘breaking’ the agreement by withdrawing from the deal.

“The United States didn’t implement [the deal’s] ...commitments, now it has withdrawn,” said Zarif.

Zarif added that a new deal negotiated by President Trump would most likely not endure long.

“I had a US deal and the US broke it. If I have a Trump deal, how long will it last?”

Earlier on Wednesday, President Trump tweeted that he supported a suggestion by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson that the current nuclear deal with Iran should be replaced by a deal negotiated by the US president – what Johnson dubbed a “Trump deal”.

“Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, stated, “We should replace the Iran deal with the Trump deal.” I agree!”

Despite Iran’s decision to abrogate the terms of the deal, citing American sanctions on the Islamic republic, Zarif said Wednesday that the deal was “not dead”. He also vowed to respond to a letter from Britain, France, and Germany on Tuesday which accused Tehran of breaching the 2015 agreement.

On Tuesday, the UK, Germany, and France announced that they were launching a dispute mechanism against Iran under the 2015 nuclear deal, accusing Tehran of repeatedly violating the accord while insisting they remained committed to the agreement.

Iran responded by warning of a “serious and strong response” if European powers moved to impose sanctions on Tehran.

Iran announced last week that it will abandon the deal amid heightened tensions with the United States over the killing of Soleimani.

However, even before the elimination of Soleimani, Iran had been gradually scaling back its compliance with the 2015 deal in response to President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement in May of 2018.

Most recently, the Islamic Republic restarted uranium enrichment at the underground Fordow facility in violation of the deal.

The mechanism launched by the Europeans on Tuesday allows two weeks for ministers to resolve any problems, although that period can be extended if all sides agree. If needed, an advisory board would have an extra 20 days to adjudicate.