Iran Warns U.S. Against Abandoning Nuclear Deal

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned the United States on Sunday that leaving the 2015 nuclear deal would be a “historic mistake.” The warning came only days before President Donald Trump decides whether to scrap the pact.

Rouhani said in a televised speech that Iran had plans for “whatever decision is made by Trump” and that “when it comes to weapons and defending our country, we will not negotiate with anybody.”

President Trump is to decide whether to continue waiving sanctions against Tehran on May 12. The sanctions were lifted in 2015 when the former administration alongside some European countries, China and Russia signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the agreement is formally known. U.S. law requires that the president re-certify the deal every 90 days, CNN writes. It obliges Iran to reduce its uranium stockpile in return for international sanctions being lifted.

However, President Trump has expressed his criticism of the agreement on several occasions, calling it “flawed” and “insane,” most recently during a state visit with French President Emmanuel Macron. For that reason, it is unlikely that Trump will waive restrictions on Iran, an idea which was only reinforced by newly-appointed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who called Iran “the greatest sponsor of terrorism in the world” during a visit to Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, during a media briefing in his office on Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told international media that the JCPOA is “based on a lie. It was based on a fictitious Iranian report to the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency).”

“If you do nothing to this deal, if you keep it as is, you will end up with Iran with a nuclear arsenal in a very short time,” he added, recalling last week’s presentation revealing Iran’s nuclear archive.

On the other hand, Macron has been making efforts to preserve the deal shoring up support from British Prime Minister Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. UK Foreign Minister Boris Johnson is also scheduled to visit Washington this week in an attempt to convince Trump not to ditch the deal. In an opinion piece for The New York Times, he wrote that the best possible alternative would be to keep the pact alive, despite its evident flaws.

“I believe that keeping the deal’s constraints on Iran’s nuclear program will also help counter Tehran’s aggressive regional behavior. I am sure of one thing: every available alternative is worse. The wisest course would be to improve the handcuffs rather than break them.”

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