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Iran will adhere to nuclear deal even if US withdraws, AEOI chief says

Iran plans to adhere to its nuclear deal with the 5+1 group regardless of any probable US decision to withdraw from the agreement, the Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) says.

“We are continuously assessing if this agreement benefits us, or if the price is too high to stay in the deal. If the United States pulls out of the agreement, but the rest of the countries stay committed — namely Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia — then Iran would most probably stick with the commitments to the agreement without the US,” Ali Akbar Salehi said in a Friday interview with Der Spiegel.

“But if the US leaves the treaty and Europe follows, then this deal will certainly collapse and Iran will go back to what it was before, and, technically speaking, to a much higher level. As a person who has taken part in these negotiations, I wouldn’t like to see that happen,” he pointed out.

“I think our partners in this treaty have more to lose than we do” if the agreement falls through, the AEOI chief added.

Salehi referred to Washington’s new sanctions and pressures against Iran, saying, “The US is trying to poison the business environment. It discourages big banks and companies from working with Iran. It is fearmongering. But in reality they cannot accomplish much. There is a lot of rhetoric.”

The AEOI chief argued that the US refusal to waive Tehran’s nuclear-related sanctions constitutes “significant noncompliance” with the nuclear deal on their part.

‘Boosting military capability Iran’s right’ 

The official rejected US allegations against Iran over its ballistic missile program and noted that the Islamic Republic’s military capability has nothing to do with its nuclear activities.

“If the US considers this an issue, then it is their problem. Nowhere in the nuclear agreement does it say that Iran does not have the right to develop its missile capacity. We are exercising our rights and it is the other side that is trying to interpret this as a provocative act,” Salehi pointed out.

Iran’s nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was inked between Iran and the 5+1 group — namely the US, Russia, China, France, and Britain plus Germany — in July 2015 and took effect in January 2016.

Under the deal, limits were put on Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for the removal of all nuclear-related bans imposed on the Islamic Republic, among other things.

US President Donald Trump, who had made no secret of opposing the nuclear agreement in his election campaign, has threatened to “tear up” the agreement, calling it “the worst deal ever negotiated.”