Rouhani says Iran will take next step to limit nuclear commitments if demands not met

No need to foreign forces for Persian Gulf security, Rouhani says

August 14, 2019

TEHRAN – President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday insisted on Iran’s position that there is no need to foreign forces to maintain security in the Persian Gulf region.

“Major powers, especially America, seek nothing except causing division and emptying treasury of the Islamic countries. The Persian Gulf littoral states can maintain security and stability in the region,” Rouhani said during a cabinet meeting.

The United States has called on its European and Asian allies to form a maritime force to supposedly monitor safe shipping in the Strait of Hormuz and Persian Gulf. 

Rouhani said such a move will not help regional security.

“The regional countries can maintain security through unity, solidarity and dialogue. Undoubtedly, the United States’ claims and actions will bring them [regional countries] no benefits. The regional countries have always been and will be ‘brothers’ and division only serves the enemies’ interests,” Rouhani remarked.

In an interview Al-Jazeera on Monday, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said, “We believe that the best the U.S. can do for the protection of maritime navigation is to just leave people alone; don't interfere.”

Zarif added, “What we have called for, and repeat, is that our neighbors - all of us - belong to this region, we cannot leave this region. Others will leave this region; others will not secure us; others will not provide us with the security umbrella that we need. We can provide each other with that security umbrella. We extend our hand, and our hand remains extended, to all our neighbors.” 

 “Hollow words”

Rouhani described an announcement by the Zionist regime of Israel to join the U.S.-led coalition in the Persian Gulf as “hollow words”.

“There is clear response to such claims. Israelis protect their own security if they can! They have caused insecurity, carnage and terrorism wherever they have gone. The main factor behind war and carnage in the region is the Zionists and the occupant regime of Israel,” he noted.

Zarif said on August 9 that the Persian Gulf is a “national security priority for Iran” and that Tehran will not “hesitate to safeguard its security” in this strategic waterway, which he described as a “vital lifeline” for the Islamic Republic.

The chief diplomat warned that military presence of extra-regional forces is absolutely a “source of insecurity”.

“Mindful of this reality, any extra-regional presence is by definition source of insecurity - despite propaganda,” Zarif wrote on his Twitter account.

Prior to the warning by Zarif, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said the possible presence of Israel in the self-declared military coalition in the Persian Gulf is an “open threat to Iran’s national security” and that Iran “keeps the right to counter this threat in line with the country’s defense policies”.

Foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi also warned that the Zionist regime and the U.S. will be responsible for “entire consequences of this dangerous move”.

On August 8, Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami also reacted to Israel’s decision to join the coalition, saying, “Such a possible move could be very provocative, and can have catastrophic implications for the region.”

Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Hakim said on Monday that Baghdad rejects the participation of Israel in any force to secure the passage of ships in the Persian Gulf.

Writing on his Twitter post, Al-Hakim also said the presence of Western forces in the Persian Gulf will fuel regional tension. “The presence of Western forces in the region will increase tension,” he warned.

He added the regional states “can together secure the transit of ships”. 

The chief Iraqi diplomat said his country is “seeking to reduce tension” in the region “through calm negotiations”.

Washington’s call to form the coalition has fallen on deaf ears. So far, only Britain and Israel have agreed to join the coalition.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a press conference on July 31 that his country “would not participate in the mission the United States plans to form.”

A German government spokeswoman also said on August 5 that Chancellor Angela Merkel and the whole German government do not see Germany taking part in a U.S-led naval mission in the Strait of Hormuz.

“The chancellor does not see a participation in a U.S-led mission in the current situation and at the current time - everyone in the German government agrees on that,” a government spokeswoman told a news conference, according to Reuters.

Madrid and Tokyo have also rejected an official request from Washington to participate in the naval coalition.

‘We have always been ready to interact with world’

In his Wednesday remarks in the cabinet, Rouhani also said that Iran has always been ready to negotiate and interact with the world.

“We are totally prepared in the area of the policy of interaction on the condition that other side shows commitment,” he said.

‘Iran to start next step to reduce nuclear obligations after second 60-day deadline’

Rouhani also described Iran’s move in reducing nuclear commitments step by step as a “wise” decision and said that Tehran will start the next step of reducing nuclear obligations after the second 60-day deadline.

The third step can include installation of more centrifuges. 

“We are holding talks with the neighboring countries and other countries in the world in line with boosting relations and we will continue talks in the course of reducing nuclear commitments. However, if we will not reach any result at the end of the second 60-day deadline, we will definitely start the third step. We will give another 60 days in order to reach a right and logical solution,” he stated.

On May 8, exactly one year after the U.S. abandoned the multi-nation nuclear agreement and reimposed sanctions on Iran, Tehran said its “strategic patience” is over and announced a partial withdrawal from some aspects of the pact. It also threatened to step up uranium enrichment if an agreement is not made within 60 days to protect it from the sanctions’ effects. 

In follow-up to that deadline, on July 7 Iran announced that it has started enriching uranium to a purity level of 4.5% as the Europeans missed the 60-day deadline to devise a concrete mechanism to protect the country from the U.S. sanctions.

Under the JCPOA, Iran is allowed to possess 300 kilograms of uranium enriched to 3.67 percent. 

Iran’s nuclear spokesman, Behrouz Kamalvandi, announced on Tuesday that Iran’s stockpile of uranium has reached 370 kilograms.

Iran says its decision to reduce its commitments are in line with paragraph 36 of the JCPOA which has provided a mechanism to resolve disputes and allows one side, under certain circumstances, to stop complying with the deal if the other side is out of compliance. 

Officials in Tehran have insisted if the remaining parties to the JCPOA compensate sanctions effects Iran will reverse its decision.

NA/PA
 

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