Iran threatens to ‘vigorously’ resume enrichment if US quits nuclear deal

A handout picture provided by the office of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on April 9, 2018 shows him (R) speaking during a ceremony to mark National Nuclear Technology Day in Tehran. (AFP PHOTO / HO / IRANIAN PRESIDENCY)
Updated 22 April 2018
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Iran threatens to ‘vigorously’ resume enrichment if US quits nuclear deal

  • US President Donald Trump has set a May 12 deadline for the Europeans to “fix” the 2015 agreement that provides for curbs to Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from financial sanctions
  • Zarif told reporters in New York that Iran is not seeking to acquire a nuclear bomb, but that Tehran’s “probable” response to a US withdrawal would be to restart production of enriched uranium

NEW YORK: Iran is ready to “vigorously” resume nuclear enrichment if the United States ditches the 2015 nuclear deal, and further “drastic measures” are being considered in response to a US exit, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned Saturday.
Zarif told reporters in New York that Iran is not seeking to acquire a nuclear bomb, but that Tehran’s “probable” response to a US withdrawal would be to restart production of enriched uranium — a key bomb-making ingredient.
“America never should have feared Iran producing a nuclear bomb, but we will pursue vigorously our nuclear enrichment,” added the foreign minister, who is in the United States to attend a UN meeting on sustaining peace.
US President Donald Trump has set a May 12 deadline for the Europeans to “fix” the 2015 agreement that provides for curbs to Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from financial sanctions.
Zarif’s comments marked a further escalation of rhetoric following a warning earlier this month from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani that Washington would “regret” withdrawing from the nuclear deal, and that Iran would respond within a week if it did.
The fate of the Iran deal will be a key issue during French President Emmanuel Macron’s state visit to Washington beginning Monday, followed by talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Washington on Friday.
Zarif said the European leaders must press Trump to stick to the deal if the United States “intends to maintain any credibility in the international community” and to abide by it, “rather than demand more.”
The foreign minister warned against offering any concessions to Trump.
“To try to appease the president, I think, would be an exercise in futility,” he said.
European leaders are hoping to persuade Trump to save the deal if they, in turn, agree to press Iran to enter into agreement on missile tests and moderating its regional influence in Yemen, Syria and Lebanon.
If the United States buries the deal, Iran is unlikely to stick to the agreement alongside the other signatories — Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia --- said the foreign minister.
“That’s highly unlikely,” he said. “It is important for Iran to receive the benefits of the agreement and there is no way that Iran would do a one-sided implementation of the agreement.”
Zarif, who will attend a UN meeting on sustaining peace this week, warned of “drastic measures” under discussion in Iran.
He declined to be more specific, pointing to “what certain members of our parliament are saying about Iran’s options.”


US accepts Assad staying in Syria — but will not give aid

Updated 59 min 39 sec ago
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US accepts Assad staying in Syria — but will not give aid

  • James Jeffrey said that Assad needed to compromise as he had not yet won the brutal seven-year civil war
  • Trump’s administration has acknowledged, if rarely so explicitly, that Assad is likely to stay

WASHINGTON: The US said Monday it was no longer seeking to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad but renewed warnings it would not fund reconstruction unless the regime is “fundamentally different.”

James Jeffrey, the US special representative in Syria, said that Assad needed to compromise as he had not yet won the brutal seven-year civil war, estimating that some 100,000 armed opposition fighters remained in Syria.

“We want to see a regime that is fundamentally different. It’s not regime change —  we’re not trying to get rid of Assad,” Jeffrey said at the Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank.

Estimating that Syria would need $300-400 billion to rebuild, Jeffrey warned that Western powers and international financial institutions would not commit funds without a change of course.

“There is a strong readiness on the part of Western nations not to ante up money for that disaster unless we have some kind of idea that the government is ready to compromise and thus not create yet another horror in the years ahead,” he said.

Former President Barack Obama had called for Assad to go, although he doubted the wisdom of a robust US intervention in the complex Syrian war. and kept a narrow military goal of defeating the Daesh extremist group.

President Donald Trump’s administration has acknowledged, if rarely so explicitly, that Assad is likely to stay.

But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned in October that the US would not provide “one single dollar” for Syria’s reconstruction if Iran stays.

Jeffrey also called for the ouster of Iranian forces, whose presence is strongly opposed by neighboring Israel, although he said the US accepted that Tehran would maintain some diplomatic role in the country.

Jeffrey also said that the US wanted a Syria that does not wage chemical weapons attacks or torture its own citizens.

He acknowledged, however, that the US may not find an ally anytime soon in Syria, saying: “It doesn’t have to be a regime that we Americans would embrace as, say, qualifying to join the European Union if the European Union would take Middle Eastern countries.”