Exiting the Deal Part 3: Iran Responds

On May 8, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani condemned President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal. In a televised address, Rouhani said Trump “is not loyal to international commitments” and that his behavior disgraces the American people. Rouhani said he has ordered the foreign minister to negotiate with the other countries that remain in the agreement — Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia — to find a way forward despite the U.S. withdrawal. He warned that Iran could start enriching uranium “without limitations” in a matter of weeks if his country’s national interests cannot be guaranteed within the accord, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). In a speech at Farhangian University, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei expressed skepticism that Britain, France and Germany could guarantee Iran’s economic interests.


The following are reactions by Iranian officials. 


President Hassan Rouhani

“Tonight, we witnessed a very important and historic experience. Based on what was said 40 years ago, and we have been repeating this, Iran is a country that adheres to its commitments, and the U.S. is a country that has never adhered to its commitments. Our history in the past 40 years, even prior to that, told us and has indicated that the Americans --speaking of their approach towards the people of the region and the people of Iran – they Americans have always adopted a hostile approach. And that includes the coup against the legitimate government of Dr. [Mohammad] Mosadegh and also their interventions during the time of the previous regime, their support for Saddam [Hussein], and also their targeting of an Iranian passenger aircraft and killing of innocent people by the U.S. warship, and also the measures they have carried out against the people of Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, and also the people of the Middle East region and the people of North Africa, and also the measures carried out by the Americans in other parts of the world.

“Tonight, the Americans announced that they have withdrawn from the JCPOA, and in fact, it was an emphasis of what they have been doing in the past months. So, since the signing of the nuclear deal till today, when has the United States ever adhered to its commitments? Just a few statements have been released. So, has there been any action to the benefit of the Iranian people? Or, have the Americans acted in accordance with the nuclear deal and its framework?

“Based on what has been said by the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Organizaton], the Iranian nation has adhered to its commitments, and the Iranian government has actually fulfilled all its commitments beseeched by the JCPOA. But today we can clearly see which country is not respecting the international commitments. The JCPOA was not an agreement between Iran and the United States, so that the U.S. would be able to just exit the deal. JCPOA has been a multilateral, international agreement endorsed by the U.N. Security Council and also Resolution 2231. Therefore, the United States officially announced tonight that it pays no attention to international commitments.

“Prior to [taking action on] the JCPOA, Mr. Trump voiced his position concerning the issue of climate change and pulled out of the [Paris] climate deal. And there were other agreements, such as trade agreements. He also pulled out from those trade agreements as well. So, there's precedent to this, and there's a background.

“Our people witnessed just a few minutes ago the only regime that supported Trump's standpoint was the illegitimate Zionist regime [Israel], the very regime that martyred our nuclear scientists -- the very regime that is perpetrating atrocities and crimes against the people of the region, that perpetrates crimes against the innocent people of Palestine.

“From this moment, the JCPOA exists between Iran and five countries. From this moment, the 5+1 [powers] has lost one of its members. And in such a condition, we should wait for the six major world countries to see what they are going to do in connection with this nuclear deal. I have ordered the foreign minister to hold negotiations with European countries in the next few weeks, and also the other two major countries, namely Russia and China, to hold consultations and to do the necessary coordination to hold necessary negotiations.

“So, if at the end of this short period of time, if we come to the conclusion that with the collaboration of five countries it is feasible to attain what the Iranian people wish -- despite the views of the U.S. and the Zionist regime and also the impolite remarks by Trump-- we should see whether it is possible to just keep up with the JCPOA and also take steps in line with regional peace and tranquility.

“And if we come to the conclusion that our interests are not guaranteed, I will speak with the Iranian people and also, in such a condition, I will inform the people about the decisions that are going to be adopted by the establishment. But I should emphasize at this point that our people should not be concerned about the future of the country.

“Since many weeks ago, since several months ago, we have come to this conclusion that Trump is a person who is not loyal to international commitments, and he will not remain loyal to the JCPOA. And on this basis we adopted the necessary decisions with respect to economic matters. Regarding the issue of foreign exchange, we adopted certain decisions. We are facing a JCPOA without the United States, and our people will see that our economic growth will continue and that there will be calm in the market, and also that the foreign exchange needed by the country will be obtained. And regarding essential goods and commodities, the commodities needed by the people, there should be no concern.

“From tonight, the Iranian people [will] become more determined and become more united, and, in fact, what Trump did was psychological warfare and economic pressure. We will not allow Trump to triumph in exerting economic pressure on the Iranian people. We will not let him triumph. History shows that our people have always been victorious in the face of conspiracies, and we will also emerge victorious at this juncture.

“I have also ordered the Atomic Energy Organization to be fully prepared for subsequent measures if needed, so in the case of need, we will start up our industrial [uranium] enrichment without limitations. So, till that time to adopt that decision we will wait for a few weeks, and those who signed this deal, we will consult with them. Everything depends on our national interests. If our interests are met within the JCPOA, we will continue this trend. And if JCPOA turns into a piece of paper without guaranteeing our nation's interests, then there will be a clear path ahead of us. I assure the people of Iran that, since several months ago, the government has made the necessary plan for all the conditions, and we will have no serious problems. We will overcome this issue through unity and coordination and steadfastness, and our people will have no problem with their daily life in the upcoming weeks, months and years to come.

“And tonight, from one point of view, I'm so sorry for the fact the United States, they are suffering from rulers such as Trump who is disgracing them. I am also pleased that this nuisance has been eliminated from the JCPOA. The troublesome member has been eliminated, and I will also very soon attend a press conference to speak with the people.

—May 8, 2018, in a televised address (translation by Press TV and Al Jazeera transcribed by The Iran Primer)

"Under the current conditions, Europe has a very limited opportunity to preserve the nuclear deal, and must, as quickly as possible, clarify its position and specify and announce its intentions with regard to its obligations." 

—May 9, 2018, in a phone call with French President Macron, according to ISNA, via Reuters


Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Khamenei“Last night, you heard the US president make some shallow and lewd remarks. There were several lies within his speech. He threatened the Iranian government and people. I answer him, as a representative of the Iranian population: ‘Donald Trump, you cannot lift one finger against us.’”

“You know that the nuclear issue was just an excuse [for the United States]!”

“When the nuclear matter began, some Iranian officials said, ‘Why do we insist on keeping nuclear energy program? We can put it aside.’ Their reaction was not appropriate because our country needs nuclear energy, and based on the experts’ studies, within a few years, Iran will need 20,000 Megawatts of nuclear-generated electrical power.”

“From that day, I said that the problem the U.S. has with Iran is irrelevant to its nuclear energy; it is only a pretext. They [some officials] said this was not true.””

Now you can see for yourselves that my prediction is now a reality. We agreed on the nuclear agreement [the JCPOA]; but the animosities against Iran did not cease.”

“Today, their [U.S.] concerns are about our presence in our own region and our missile program; even if we agree to their terms, conflicts will not be resolved; they will start up with another issue.”

“The real reason behind the opposition of the U.S. towards the Islamic Republic’s system is the fact that [before the revolution], the U.S. had complete dominance over our country, eventually, their hands were severed from Iran by the Islamic Revolution.”

“U.S. officials want the kind of rulers, in other countries, who dish out money to them and comply with their orders. The U.S. government wants the ability to change them, any time they need to: like how they removed Reza Khan from power and appointed his son, for instance; or, like what they get away with doing in some Persian Gulf countries, treating leaders like submissive slaves of the U.S.”

“We do not trust the three European countries, like we don’t trust the US; without receiving a strong guarantee from these three European countries, we won't stick to the nuclear agreement [the JCPOA].”

“A few days ago, Trump wrote a letter to the leaders of some Persian Gulf countries, to which we have access. In the letter, he indicated that he spent $7 trillion on these countries, so they must adhere to his orders. Well, Trump, you have spent all this money to dominate Syria and Iraq, but you couldn't do it; you will go to hell with your failures.”

“Trump gives orders, asserting ‘they must’ do as he says: he also wants to give similar orders to Iranians. The Iranian nation is independent and dignified. The previous rulers of our country deprived the people from dignity. Now the Islamic Republic and Islamic revolution have arrived, and they [The USA] cannot tolerate its stronghold.”

“Some of our own officials have said, ‘Why do we insist on opposing the US?’ May God pardon their mistake.”

“Trump will whither away, perish, and his body will decompose: but, the Islamic Republic will still be thriving.”

“What happened is a foul play on the part of the United States, and it does not surprise us. This attitude also occurred while the USA was under the rule of previous presidents, and it has happened in one way or the other during every presidency.”

“The Iranian nation is firmly standing. Those former presidents passed and were forgotten, and the Islamic Republic is still standing. The same fate is waiting for this one, and the Islamic Republic will be standing strong on that day.”

“From day one, I said several times that the United States is not to be trusted. I said it publicly and privately. I said if you want to sign an agreement, first make sure that necessary guarantees are made. One of the conditions I mentioned was that the president of the United States has to sign it. Those in charge of the negotiations tried hard, but couldn't satisfy this condition.”

“We have implemented this agreement for the past 2.5 years, and now this brute says I don't accept it.”


“It is said that we are going to follow through with the three other European countries. I don't trust these countries either. Do not trust them. If you want to agree on anything, make sure there are practical guarantees in place. Otherwise, they will do what the U.S. did to us.”

"If you can get guarantees, fine, although I doubt it. If not, we cannot stay in the JCPOA agreement."

“The officials are facing a big test: are they going to ensure that the nation's pride will be protected or not? The pride and interests of the nation must be truly secured.”

—May 9, 2018, in a speech at Farhangian University


Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif


Statement of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran

The unlawful withdrawal of the U.S. President from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (“JCPOA”) is but the final of long and persistent violations of this accord on the part of the United States, and especially since the coming into office of its new extremist Administration. Mr. Trump’s absurd insults against the great Iranian nation indicates the extent of his ignorance and folly. Moreover, his baseless charges against the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran in fact befits a regime which has through its interventions dragged the Middle East into chaos and ignited terrorism and extremism; whose Zionist ally is engaged in unprecedented cruelty, violations of human rights and aggression; and whose regional clients gave birth to and nurtured terrorist groups, which Mr. Trump in a ridiculous claim linked to the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is regrettable that this kind of individual now governs the civilized and peaceful American people.

Ever since his election campaign, Mr. Trump has declared his hatred of the JCPOA, an accord recognized as a victory of diplomacy by the international community. Since taking office, Mr. Trump has not only made explicit and official statements against the agreement in violation of its provisions, but has in practice also failed to implement U.S. practical – and not merely formal commitments under the JCPOA. The Islamic Republic of Iran has recorded these violations in numerous letters to the Joint Commission convened under the JCPOA, outlining the current U.S. Administration’s bad faith and continuous violations of the accord. Thus Mr. Trump’s latest action is not a new development but simply means the end of the obstructionist presence of the United States as a participant in the JCPOA.

The JCPOA is a multilateral accord adopted unanimously in a United Nations Security Council resolution, which in contrast with the claims of Mr. Trump, is not merely an agreement of his predecessor whose implementation can be ignored by a succeeding U.S. Administration.  

This action on the part of the U.S. President is not limited to the JCPOA. Indeed, violations of law and breaking of commitments have become a pattern under the current U.S. Administration, going from the Paris Climate Accord to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. It was only due to the global consensus on the JCPOA and the accord’s inner strength that it took the United States Government sixteen months to explicitly and officially pull out.

Beyond further damaging the credibility of the United States on the world stage, the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA has put into question the foundation of international relations in today’s world, the credibility of accords entered into with the U.S. - whether bilaterally or multilaterally – and also put the present system of international law in serious danger.

Unlike the U.S., the Islamic Republic of Iran is committed to its international obligations and sees the upholding of such commitments as a fundamental religious principle and an incontrovertible norm which underpins international law. So far, Iran’s fulfilment of all its commitments under the JCPOA has been verified by the only  internationally recognized authority, namely the International Atomic Energy Agency, and repeatedly acknowledged by all parties to the JCPOA, including the U.S. As such, unfounded claims and ludicrous propaganda shows have no value or credibility within the JCPOA, especially since the International Atomic Energy Agency, following the accusations made by Trump and his accomplices, has again reiterated that Iran is abiding by its commitments under the accord.

Iran, as a country that has remained committed to its legal obligations, will pursue the U.S. Government’s decision to withdraw from the JCPOA as provided by the mechanisms and provisions of the accord, and if the U.S. withdrawal is not fully compensated and the full interests of the Iranian people are not met and guaranteed - as stated in the accord and as outlined by Iran’s Leader on 9 May  - it will exercise its legal right to take whatever reciprocal measures it deems expedient. Other parties to the JCPOA, and especially its three European signatories, must take necessary action to safeguard the accord and to implement their commitments – which they proved incapable of fully performing even while the U.S. was nominally a party to the deal, due to the obstructions by the Trump Administration – and to proceed from giving pledges to taking practical action without any preconditions.  

None of the provisions or timeframes within the JCPOA, which were the subject of twelve years of negotiations, are negotiable in any manner. The U.S., which has through its meddling and erroneous policies ignited extremism, terrorism, destruction, war and child killing in our region, is in no position to issue any diktat about the Islamic Republic of Iran’s lawful presence within its own region nor its effective support for the peoples of Syria and Iraq in their endeavor to fight extremists. The U.S. and its allies, which through their support for the regime of Saddam Hussein, including equipping it with chemical weapons and the most advanced military equipment while blocking Iran’s access to any means of defense victimized the Iranian people for eight years, and currently turning our region into a powder keg through their sale of hundreds of billions of dollars of useless advanced weaponry  devouring the financial resources of the region, are in no position to impose restrictions on the Islamic Republic of Iran’s lawful means of defense, including defensive ballistic missiles which have been designed to carry conventional weapons based on the bitter experiences of the war with the regime of Saddam Hussein. Indeed, such efforts explicitly violate the principles of international law, and the Islamic Republic of Iran’s legitimate right to self-defense under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.

As announced by the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran on 8 May, the Foreign Minister has been tasked with the duty of taking the necessary measures to obtain required guarantees from the remaining parties to the JCPOA as well as Iran’s other economic partners, and to immediately report the results of this mission. Meanwhile, the President of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran has been tasked with taking all necessary steps in preparation for Iran to pursue industrial-scale enrichment without any restrictions, using the results of the latest research and development of Iran’s brave nuclear scientists.

The people of Iran will with calm and confidence continue their path towards progress and development and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has foreseen all necessary measures to facilitate this under any circumstance. 

The Islamic Republic of Iran, as a secure and powerful state, which derives its security and economic development from within, relying on the prudent participation and resilience of its brave and civilized people, seeks constructive and dignified engagement with the world, and as shown by its implementation of the JCPOA despite the United States’ continuous violations, is a trustworthy and committed partner for all who are prepared to cooperate on the basis of shared interests and mutual respect.

May 10, 2018, in a statement


Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani


“This is a chance for Europe to show if it has enough weight to settle international disputes.”

“However, it is worth waiting for several weeks, so everyone would see with one’s own eyes that Iran tried all paths to a peaceful solution.”

May 9, 2018, according to ICANA, via Iran Front Page News

“The posterity of our country should know this experience of how Americans sent letters to us, calling for negotiations, and then they easily violated the brokered principles.”

“Our meeting today has coincided with Trump's recent act of wickedness.”

“The Iranian Leader shed light on this issue today and briefly recounted the past and drew up a strategy for the future.”

“This is a very effective experience for our country that the Western countries, especially US, have always adopted an arrogant approach to us so much so that whenever they cannot bear something, they ruin the whole game.”

“Exactly like what happened in the case of nuclear issue where they themselves sent letters several times and called for negotiation until we agreed conditionally and the agreement was approved by the United Nations but now they are behaving in a way that is undermining the global security.”

“This is a very beneficial experience for the future that how difficult it is to deal with these countries and how much insecurity they create in the world; a kind of behavior which is committed to no principle and causes international rifts.”

“However, the Iranian nation has gone through more difficult passages and will easily overcome this hurdle, too. But this will remain in the world's history that a country with a claim on global management behaved so irresponsibly.”

May 9, 2018, while meeting with teachers in honor of the national week of teachers, according to Mehr News Agency

“Europe must prove that it is capable of throwing its weight behind settling our issues.”

“The American nation has been saddled with an egotistical and amateurish politician.”

“Aren’t such idiotic measures shameful for a country with a claim on global management that even its allies are trying to stop him from taking them and control him?”

“Trump is overjoyed that he is plundering some short-sighted regional countries for the price of ignoring their wicked actions in the region.”

“Is it truly a dignified way for Trump to spend all his efforts on destroying everything the previous president of the US has done?”

“While Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal has soared the world’s distrust of the US commitments, the Iranian nation has proved that it will first choose dialog and political ways to settle any disputes.”

“In this situation, Iran has no obligation not to go back to the previous position [in its nuclear program]. With a national consensus, we will give the US and Zionists a response that they will regret.”

May 9, 2018, at an open session of parliament, according to Mehr News Agency


*Some lawmakers criticized the burning of the American flag. "Two thirds of the American people are against Trump's decision, according to reports. Setting fire to the flag puts the American people against us," said Vice Speaker Ali Motahari. Another member, Fatemeh Saeidi said the flag burning didn't serve Iran's interests. 


Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani

“The Islamic Republic has announced that if the nuclear deal is destroyed with the U.S. assault, certainly the conditions will not return to the status before the nuclear deal and a new situation will be created that won’t be in the U.S. interest in the end.”

“Anyway, destruction of the nuclear deal means the start of a new confrontation against the Islamic Republic of Iran and we will not remain passive in such conditions and we have the upper hand in such a confrontation.”

May 9, 2018, according to Fars News Agency


Governor of the Central Bank of Iran Valiollah Seif

“Trump’s administration is doing its utmost to unload the heaviest burden on the Islamic republic of Iran with the lowest cost for US.”

“In the last one and a half year the Trump administration has done nothing to honor its commitments under the JCPOA, and has, instead, purposefully made obstructions or created propaganda hype to destabilize our country’s economy.”

“Fortunately, Trump is isolated in his decision and only backed by the Israeli regime, while the other countries of the world have supported Iran’s rightful stances.”

“With our planning, Iran’s economic growth will continue on the same progressive trend. The foreign currency affairs are stable now with creating balance between resources and costs, imports and ease of export, and providing foreign exchange for all the basic needs of the country.”

May 9, 2018, according to Mehr News Agency


Interior Minister Rahmani Fazli

“Iran should enter negotiations with Europeans in a certain period of time and if it feels that their behavior is within the framework of the positions they are taking, it should continue its relations [with them].”

May 9, 2018, according to Mehr News Agency


Defense Minister General Amir Hatami

“We will work to improve our defense power on a daily basis and will upgrade our missile power as scheduled much to the dismay of this nation’s ill-wishers.”

May 9, 2018, according to PressTV

“The Islamic Republic of Iran is at a state that no military threat can be raised against it and that is why the enemies do not talk about military options anymore.”

May 9, 2018, according to Mehr News Agency


Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri

“Iran signed the accord to prove its goodwill to the international community.”

“The arrogance did not abide by its obligations under the deal it had signed before.”

“In the last three months, the young, unwise Saudi ruler has been working with the United States to provoke them against Iran saying ‘you attack Iran we will pay for it;’ however, they will not dare to enter Iran’s soil.”

“When enemies felt they could not launch military invasion on Iran, they resorted to the economic war.” Leader of Islamic revolution has said current war against the Islamic establishment is of economic nature and the US Department of Treasury acts as the base for the war against Iran.”

“Iranian nation should be aware that if we want to grow, we should stand on our own feet to move towards self-sufficiency.”

May 9, 2018, according to Mehr News Agency

“The last night experience (US exit from JCPOA) indicated that although we should tactically follow certain sides, we ultimately need to stand on our own feet to build the country.”

May 9, 2018, according to Tasnim News Agency

“The enemies resorted to economic warfare when they had no option to launch a military one.”

“Despite all threats and conspiracies by the enemies, we assured the government officials that security exists and they can follow up with the national development.”

May 9, 2018, according to PressTV


IRGC Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari

“From now on, we, the Armed Forces, should pay more and deeper attention to enhancement of defense power and pursue the main factors of our own power.”

“The U.S. exit from the JCPOA revealed that Iran’s uranium enrichment program was only a pretext, while the U.S. main problem with the Islamic Republic is its defense and missile power and regional influence.”

May 9, 2018, at a military conference in Tehran, according to Tasnim News Agency

“Once again Americans proved they are unreliable and do not live up to their promises.”

“Europeans, are unable to make choices independent from US; JCPOA future is clear; Iran will achieve development only through domestic capabilities.”

May 9, 2018, according to Mehr News Agency


Deputy IRGC Commander Brigadier General Hossein Salami

"Today, we are in an economic war. On the one hand, the United States and Europe and their allies are seeking an economic embargo, and, on the other hand, poverty and economic problems are putting pressures on the country. We have to deal with these problems like a real war.”

“The US withdrawal from the JCPOA was just an excuse. Their real goal is Iranian nation’s surrender." 

"The enemy will never choose a military option against Iran, but they will opt for economic sanctions as their only option.”

May 10, 2018, in southeastern Zahedan, according to Mehr News Agency


Chairman of Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Alaeddin Boroujerdi

“The US withdrawal should be welcomed. Trump once again showed that the world community should not trust the US as it shows no respect to the international law.”

“The US will be the biggest loser after its withdrawal from the JCPOA.”

May 9, 2018, according to Mehr News Agency


Parliament General Director for International Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian

“We will build our economy on more prospering grounds than ever by relying on domestic power and further interaction with the world.”

May 9, 2018, according to Mehr News Agency


The Omid (Hope) Faction

“The U.S. president’s unilateral move to withdraw from the nuclear deal shows his unbalanced behavior and is a stigma for the U.S. administration, especially the Republicans, as a disloyal and untrustworthy stream.”

“If they (European allies, Russia and China) don’t resist against the U.S., their independence will be endangered.”

May 9, 2018, in a statement, according to Fars News Agency (The Omid Faction is a parliamentary moderate bloc that supported Rouhani in the election)


Chief Executive of Iran Airports and Air Navigation Company Rahmatollah Mahabadi

“In this regard, decision taken by US statesmen and politicians will have no effect.”

May 9, 2018, according to Mehr News Agency



Click here for President Trump's remarks. 

Click here for the U.S. Treasury's statements on sanctions. 

Click here for world reactions. 

Click here for congressional remarks. 

Click here for Obama-era officials' reactions. 

Click here for analysis by foreign policy and non-proliferation experts. 

Click here for responses from around the Middle East. 

Click here for Iranian media coverage. 

Some of the information in this article was originally published on May 8, 2018.