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NUKEWARS
Iran says US opposing 'whole world'; Europe scrambles to save deal
By CÚcile FEUILLATRE and Adam PLOWRIGHT
Paris (AFP) Oct 11, 2017


Iran says US opposing 'whole world' on nuclear deal
Tehran (AFP) Oct 11, 2017 - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani lashed out at US counterpart Donald Trump on Tuesday, saying he was opposing "the whole world" by trying to abandon a landmark nuclear agreement.

"If the US wants to take a hostile position regarding an international agreement which is approved by the UN Security Council... they will oppose not just Iran but the whole world," Rouhani said at a cabinet meeting shown on state television.

"It will be absolutely clear which is the lawless government. It will be clear which country is respected by the nations of the world and global public opinion," he added.

Trump is due to deliver a speech as early as Thursday outlining a tougher line on Iran, and is expected to say he will no longer certify the 2015 nuclear deal as required every three months.

The US Congress would then have 60 days to decide on whether to reimpose sanctions, effectively pulling out of the nuclear agreement.

Other parties to the deal -- Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and the European Union -- have all voiced staunch support for it, saying Iran has stuck to its commitments to curb its nuclear programme.

The nuclear deal "is a test for all governments," Rouhani said.

"Whenever we have committed ourselves, we have stood by our commitments to the end. This is an honour for us."

Rouhani also took aim at reports that the US may declare Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organisation.

"This will be a mistake. The Revolutionary Guards are not just a military unit, the Revolutionary Guards are in the hearts of the people," he said.

He said Trump was "clearly upset" over the Guards' military successes against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.

"OK, if you want to keep Daesh (the Islamic State group) in this region for 20 years and use it as a tool, then OK, it is your right to be angry with the Revolutionary Guards. Because the Revolutionary Guards, by their planning, and support for the nations of Iraq, Syria and Lebanon have humiliated Daesh," Rouhani said.

Earlier this year, Rouhani sparked a row with the Guards over their extensive economic holdings, saying they were acting like a "government with a gun".

But the threats from Washington have brought a show of unity from Iran's often fractious institutions.

"We are one society. We are all Iran. There are no differences among our factions in confronting our enemies' conspiracies," Rouhani said.

"The current US president has created a situation where Iran is more integrated than ever, more unanimous, more united."

Earlier in the day, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif gave a closed door briefing to parliament on possible responses to Trump's speech.

Having spent months lobbying US President Donald Trump unsuccessfully over the Iran nuclear deal, European countries are now scrambling behind the scenes to save an agreement negotiated through painstaking diplomacy.

Trump is set to announce his position on the 2015 accord as early as Thursday having spent the past two years disparaging a key foreign policy breakthrough of his predecessor, Barack Obama, as "the worst deal ever."

Most analysts expect him to declare that Tehran is failing to live up to its commitments -- a view not shared by the other five world powers involved in the talks.

A decision by Trump to "decertify" the deal would leave it at grave risk with the US Congress having 60 days to decide whether to re-impose specific sanctions on Tehran that were lifted because of the diplomatic pact.

"At a legal level the deal would not -- yet -- be dead, but politically the signal is very strong," said one European diplomat speaking about Trump's expected decision to de-certify.

"This agreement is also a deal that depends on confidence," the diplomat said, asking not to be named because he was not authorised to speak publicly.

The deal, which formally took force in January 2016, was designed to stop Iran gaining atomic weapons -- an objective Tehran has always denied pursuing.

Under the deal, Tehran agreed to mothball large parts of its nuclear programme.

- Unwilling to listen? -

Trump's comments on the Iran deal have reinforced perceptions of his administration as unpredictable and deaf to the views of Europe's main powers, which have historically been America's closest allies.

Both British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron used the United Nations General Assembly in September to try and change the 71-year-old US leader's mind on Iran -- to little effect.

"Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States," Trump told the General Assembly.

Europe's efforts recall the fruitless campaign to persuade Trump to respect the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change, which also saw concerted efforts in private and public from France, Britain and Germany.

Finding the White House impervious to their reasoning, European diplomats are now focusing their attention on members of the Republican-dominated US Congress.

"Our embassy is working with the legislature," German foreign ministry spokesman Rainer Breul said earlier this week. "We are looking for dialogue, to explain our arguments and why in our opinion the Iranian deal is a success."

- Blow to trade -

European companies have moved into Iran over the last year, keen to tap a growing and potentially lucrative market but still wary about some US financial sanctions which remain in place.

French firms have been at the forefront, with oil group Total and carmakers Renault and Peugeot announcing investments of several billion euros.

German industrial giant Siemens has also announced new deals there, while European aircraft maker Airbus bagged orders in June from two Iranian airlines for 73 planes which would be worth several billion euros.

"If Congress reimposes sanctions, I don't see many chief executives proposing to their boards 'hey, let's invest in Iran,'" said the European diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Thierry Coville, an analyst at the Institute of International and Strategic Relations (IRIS) in Paris, said he expected the Europeans to club together with Russia and China, the other two powers who helped craft the deal.

"If there are new sanctions, it's going to be very complicated," he explained.

As well as re-opening an international crisis with Iran that European countries thought had been resolved, diplomats also worry about the message sent by Trump to other states, particularly North Korea.

Tensions have soared between Washington and Pyongyang, a secretive and totalitarian state that insists it needs to develop an atomic weapon to defend itself against US aggression.

"The message you give if you don't stick to the agreement would be: don't negotiate, don't negotiate with the West particularly, because agreements are not honoured," said another senior European diplomat on condition of anonymity.

David Patrikarakos, a journalist and author of the book "Nuclear Iran: The Birth of an Atomic State", said that the 2015 deal was "that rarest of things: a concrete result of European unity."

"One thing is clear. Even if Trump were to withdraw, it would not necessarily spell the end of the deal. The EU will fight alongside Iran's moderates to keep it alive," he wrote for the online news site Politico this week.

NUKEWARS
Germany worries Trump will quit Iran nuke deal; Iran jails nuclear negotiator for spying
Berlin (AFP) Oct 8, 2017
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Sunday that he feared US President Donald Trump would quit the Iran nuclear deal next week. Trump is a stern critic of the 2015 accord, which he has called "the worst deal ever", and US officials say he intends to tell US Congress next week that Tehran is not honouring its side of the bargain. "The United States is likely to quit the Iran agree ... read more

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