Iran: ‘We will stay in nuclear deal’ even if US exits

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani with the EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

The Iranian president claims that even if the US exits the nuclear deal over what Trump calls its “fatal flaws,” the Islamic Republic will abide by the agreement with its other signatories.

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

According to the Financial Times, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani publicly committed his country to the nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in a news conference on Tuesday, even if the United States ultimately decides to exit it.

“We will stay in the JCPOA as long as our interests are observed,” Rouhani said. “The US staying in or out will not be the main criteria for our decision.”

Iran signed the 2015 JCPOA with the US, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany. In return for agreeing to curtail its efforts to build nuclear weapons for a decade, crippling economic sanctions were lifted. The regime’s financial state immediately improved, as its primary export – oil – has doubled since the deal was implemented, and representatives of multinational companies have flocked to Tehran to ink business deals and discuss investments in many fields.

The billions brought in have certainly kept Iran from collapsing, but there has yet to be an economic turnaround – and this is extremely important for the hardline Muslim regime whose population is young, restless, and idle. The youth unemployment rate in Iran has averaged nearly 26% in the last seven years, according to tradingeconomics.com, representing one of the factors that led to a series of public protests in December and January over the government’s economic policies. These demonstrations shook the authorities somewhat, as Rouhani himself acknowledged last month, saying that “people had economic, political and social demands.”

This may mean that Tehran wants to avoid President Trump closing the financial spigots by walking away from the JCPOA.

“Mr Rouhani and his diplomatic team are safeguarding the nuclear deal with their teeth and claws,” said one pro-reform regime insider according to the report. “In practice, the US is already out of the deal. But we will not reciprocate their move, and hope that we can keep . . . selling oil to Europeans and doing business with them.”

Rouhani’s comments show that Tehran is determined to fight for the agreement’s survival even if Washington reimposes sanctions on the country, counting heavily on all the other world powers to keep trading with his country.

Batya Jerenberg :