Obama: World to question U.S. reliability regarding Iran deal

November 24, 2020 - 14:44

TEHRAN — Former U.S. President Barack Obama has criticized his successor Donald Trump for damaging the United States’ image in the world, saying the world will still question the reliability of the U.S. during the Biden era with issues such as the Iran nuclear deal.

“The world will still question how reliable and steady would be the United States during the Biden era, for example, regarding the Paris Agreement and the Iran nuclear agreement,” Obama said in an interview with the Washington Post on Monday.

Pointing out that Biden intends to join the Paris Climate Agreement and the Iran nuclear deal, soon after taking office, Obama added that “the return of trust to the United States will not be rebuilt overnight.”

“In any case, there is some damage and it will take some time for us to get out of it,” he said, adding that he hopes President-elect Joe Biden’s cabinet and those elected would be able to do so, but that could not happen immediately.

In May 2018, Trump unilaterally pulled his country out of the nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and unleashed the “toughest ever” sanctions against Iran.

Observers say Trump’s motivation for exiting the JCPOA was prompted by his hatred of any achievement by his predecessor Obama.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has said Iran has suffered billions of dollars in damages because Trump did not like Obama.

“Billions upon billions of dollars of damage they have inflicted upon Iran just because somebody didn’t like the previous president of the United States,” Zarif told Fareed Zakaria at a virtual event sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations in September.

“It’s not my business that this president or the next president like their predecessor or don’t like their predecessor. It is the United States that has to act responsibly in the international community, which unfortunately it hasn’t,” he added.

Zarif further pointed to the damage caused by the U.S. sanctions on Iran, saying Iran is currently not able to buy vaccines for influenza because the United States does not allow us to transfer the money.

Colin S. Cavell, a full professor of political science at Bluefield State College in West Virginia, has also told the Tehran Times that Trump pulled the U.S. out of the nuclear deal “to negate an international agreement negotiated by his African American predecessor, Barack Obama.”

Speculations about a possible thaw in Iran-U.S. relations have gained momentum after Biden was named the winner of the November presidential election. Biden himself had said that he would rejoin the JCPOA if he won the election.

“I will offer Tehran a credible path back to diplomacy. If Iran returns to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, the United States would rejoin the agreement as a starting point for follow-on negotiations. With our allies, we will work to strengthen and extend the nuclear deal's provisions, while also addressing other issues of concern,” Biden said in a September op-ed for CNN.

E3 foreign ministers meet on JCPOA 

Meanwhile, foreign ministers from the three European parties to the deal, namely France, the UK and Germany, have met to discuss a joint approach with the incoming Biden administration on reviving the nuclear pact.

The three countries, whose ministers met in Berlin on Monday, are hopeful about the revival of the JCPOA and the return of Tehran to the deal under the Biden administration.

The foreign ministers Heiko Maas of Germany, Jean-Yves Le Drian of France and Dominic Raab of the UK met to discuss “what a further approach involving all signatories to the JCPOA, and perhaps also with a new U.S. administration, could look like”, the Guardian quoted German officials as saying.

Foreign Minister Zarif suggested last week that Iran might need guarantees before letting the U.S. rejoin the old JCPOA.

The former EU chief negotiator Federica Mogherini advised the U.S. not to try to negotiate an updated JCPOA too quickly. 

“I don’t see the possibility of moving on to new elements unless and until JCPOA is fully implemented by both sides. I think this is the starting point and I think we would be mistaken and under a very serious illusion if we were thinking of doing this the other way around,” she said at a European Leadership Network event.


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