Bullying U.S. has been isolated: Iran’s deputy FM

November 18, 2018

TEHRAN - The United States, like a bully, is exerting pressures on other countries but it has been isolated politically, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi has said.

Earlier this month, the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump announced the re-imposition of the “toughest” sanctions ever against Iran's banking and energy sectors with the aim of cutting off the country's oil sales and crucial exports. The announcement came after Washington withdrew in May from the landmark Iran nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and decided to re-impose unilateral sanctions against Tehran.

Under the deal, reached between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries - the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China - in 2015, Iran undertook to put limits on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions.

A first round of American sanctions took effect in August, targeting Iran’s access to the U.S. dollar, metals trading, coal, industrial software, and auto sector.

In an interview with the Spanish ABC newspaper published on Sunday, Araqchi said even before the new rounds of sanction took effect and since Donald Trump took office, some foreign companies had begun to stop activities in Iran due to uncertainty and a psychological climate.

“Those companies not linked with the United States are continuing their cooperation with Iran. Around 3,000 small, medium-size and large companies are working with Iran. What they want is a financial channel for doing business,” Araqchi, who was in Madrid for a round of negotiations with Spanish diplomats, said, according to an English translation of the interview published by IRNA.

The Iranian official said there is possibility of reduction in Iran's oil sale but not to the extent that the U.S. has claimed.

“Maybe, the country has to pay heavy prices for sanctions but they cannot change Iran’s policies. The previous U.S. administration had imposed much harsher sanctions against Iran but eventually it had to sit for negotiations. Trump is still following an already failed experience,” the top diplomat remarked.

Asked whether like previous rounds of sanctions when Iran increased the number of its centrifuges to 20,000 from 200, it will do the same this time, Araqchi responded that Iran curbed its nuclear activities to show its credibility. 

“If there is no agreement there will be no limitations. Iran’s nuclear program will remain of peaceful nature forever. We used to have first generation centrifuges and now we are working on the third and fourth generations, but we do not want to reach a point of tension,” he said.

Asked about claims that Iran supports terrorism and is misusing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to develop nuclear arms, the Iranian deputy foreign minister said, “Our nuclear program is under supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which has verified 13 times Iran's commitment to its obligations under the deal. The Zionist regime is good at lying and we should not be deceived by false claims of war-mongering individuals.”

On Iran’s alleged presence in Yemen, Araqchi replied, “We have no presence in Yemen. We are in contact with the Houthis but this does not mean that they (Houthis) are doing whatever we want them to do. We are trying to help establish peace in that country. This war is the result of Saudis’ miscalculations. They used to talk about eliminating the Houthis within two months but with the passage of four years the war is still raging in that country. That is why they intend to attribute this to Iran. The solution is not war but rather politics.”

Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating military campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the aim of bringing the government of former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power and crushing the country’s Houthi Ansarullah movement.

Some 16,000 Yemenis have been killed and thousands more injured since the onset of the Saudi-led aggression.

More than 2,200 others have died of cholera, and the crisis has triggered what the United Nations has described as the world's worst humanitarian disaster.

Asked if Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had some evidence to support his statement that dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered with the support of the United States, Araqchi said “President Rouhani meant that Washington’s all-out support for the Saudi Arabian government has emboldened it to do whatever it wishes, including Khashoggi’s murder. Even the U.S. is supplying arms to Saudi Arabia for its war on Yemen.”

Araqchi says Iran ready if EU fails to save JCPOA 

Araqchi has also said that Tehran is ready for any scenario if the Europeans fail to save JCPOA.

“We have considered many mechanisms to counter the sanctions and our colleagues in the government economic apparatus have have established committees which are studying solutions,” he told IRNA in an interview published on Saturday.

He said that the U.S. is putting pressure on the Europeans to prevent them from doing business with Iran, noting the move is “against the European countries’ sovereignty”.


SP/NA/PA
 

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