Iran’s Rouhani: ‘Our choice is resistance only’

Iran’s president said the country has no choice but to resist.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

“Our choice is resistance only,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said, referring to the current political tensions with the U.S. during a meeting with the Ulama, the country’s top religious body, on Monday.

“I favor talks and diplomacy but under current conditions, I do not accept it, as today situation is not suitable for talks,” Rouhani said, according to the state’s news agency IRNA.

The Iranian president said that the reason Iran has been reluctant to walk away completely from the 2015 nuclear deal struck with the U.S. under the Obama administration, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, is that it would lead to more economic pressure on Iran, IRNA reports.

“If we walked away from the JCPOA with the U.S. provocative acts, then, in addition to the U.S., the U.N. and world would also impose sanctions on us,” he said.

The JCPOA was struck with not only the U.S., but also China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the European Union.

Portraying Iran as the victim, Rouhani said that Iran never sought to start a conflict, although few people believe that as Iran’s enemies have been successful at pinning the blame for the tensions on the Islamic Republic, according to IRNA.

In May 2018, President Donald Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal, saying it only limited Iran’s nuclear weapon ambitions for a short period. Trump descried the Iran nuclear deal throughout his presidential campaign, calling it the “worst in history.”

Since then, the Trump administration renewed sanctions on Iran, gradually tightening them as time went on. Most recently, it cancelled waivers for some countries to buy Iran’s oil (Iran is the fifth largest oil exporter in the world), choking off more than $50 billion in Iranian income. And on May 8, a year to the day that Trump pulled out of the deal, he announced further sanctions on Iran’s metal exports, including iron, steel, aluminum and copper.

Rouhani said in the meeting that the sanctions were hurting the country. He said the main problems are the resulting cuts in government revenues and its limited banking options, noting that 87 percent of  global economic interaction is conducted with dollars, a currency cut off to Iran, IRNA reports.

Iran announced in early May that it would begin keeping its excess uranium and heavy water from its nuclear program. On Monday, IRNA reported that Iran’s 3.67 percent uranium production capacity has grown four times already. It was a message to the Europeans to act to save the nuclear deal before Iran breaks the agreement by moving past the 300 kilograms of enriched uranium it is allowed to hold under the JCPOA.

Although Rouhani said resistance is Iran’s only option, Trump has offered a fig leaf to the Iranian regime, sending a direct phone line through the Swiss should Iran want to talk, and signaling in other ways that he would like a diplomatic solution to the conflict.

In an interview on Sunday with Fox News, Trump said, “I don’t want to fight. But you do have situations like Iran, you can’t let them have nuclear weapons — you just can’t let that happen.”