APR Updated August 04, 2017
TEHRAN: Iran said on Thursday that new US sanctions were a violation of its nuclear deal with world powers, piling pressure on President Hassan Rouhani as he starts his second term.
Rouhani vowed to keep up his efforts to end Iran’s isolation as he was sworn in by the Islamic republic’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei following his re-election in May.
But the ceremony came less than 24 hours after US President Donald Trump confirmed fresh sanctions against Iran.
Tehran says the new measures violate its 2015 deal with world powers that eased sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program, an agreement which Trump has repeatedly threatened to tear up.
“We believe that the nuclear deal has been violated and we will react appropriately,” deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi said on state television. “We will certainly not fall into the trap of US policy and Trump, and our reaction will be very carefully considered.”
“We will never accept isolation,” Rouhani said as he was sworn in in front of top political and military officials. “The nuclear deal is a sign of Iran’s goodwill on the international stage.”
Khamenei took a tougher line, saying Iran must not fall for Washington’s “tricks”. “The enemy’s hostility has made us more resistant,” the supreme leader said.
Iranian officials say they have prepared a 16-point document for how they will respond to the new sanctions, without giving details.
The new parliament will also vote on a bill boosting financial support to the Revolutionary Guards and the country’s missile program, which is targeted by the sanctions.
Ellie Geranmayeh, an Iran analyst with the European Council on Foreign Relations. “What will be absolutely critical is how the Europeans position themselves,” she said.
Britain, France, and Germany — who signed the deal alongside Russia, China, and the United States — remain firm backers of the agreement and are eagerly seeking to rebuild trade ties with Iran despite logistical problems caused by US sanctions.
French energy giant Total defied US pressure in July by signing a multi-billion-dollar gas deal with Iran.
“What Iranians are banking on at the moment, maybe overestimating, is that Europe will safeguard and build on the deal, and make it too politically costly for Trump to tear it up, or at least show Washington that if it walks away, it will be doing so alone,” said Geranmayeh.
But the Europeans do oppose Iran’s recent missile tests, with the French foreign ministry stating on Thursday that they “contradict” UN Resolution 2231 which oversees the nuclear deal, and “constitute a potential threat to stability and security in the region”. Everyone agrees that Iran has stuck to its central commitments regarding its nuclear program — including, reluctantly, the Trump administration.
But with Iran gaining the upper hand across the Middle East, through support for proxies in Syria, Lebanon,
and Iraq, US lawmakers appear determined to ratchet up tensions.
Published in Dawn, August 4th, 2017