On May 3, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif criticized President Donald Trump’s repeated threats to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal. He also clarified Iran’s position on renegotiating the accord or a possible supplemental deal. “Let me make it absolutely clear once and for all: We will neither outsource our security nor will we renegotiate or add onto a deal we have already implemented in good faith,” he said in a video posted on YouTube. Zarif’s message, in English, seemed intended for an international audience.
Trump has demanded fixes to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) under threat of withdrawing from it; he is due to make a decision on May 12. Britain, France and Germany have been quietly discussing language to supplement the JCPOA that would address its most controversial aspects, including so-called “sunset clauses,” as well as issues outside the deal, such as Iran’s missile development and regional intervention.
But Iranian officials have rejected outright any changes to the deal. Zarif further clarified Tehran’s position in his message. “To put it in realistic terms, when you buy a house and move your family in, or demolish it build a skyscraper, you cannot come back two years later and try to renegotiate the price,” he said. The following is a transcript of Zarif’s remarks.
For the first two years in my post, I spent much of my time negotiating with my counterparts from the European Union, Russia, China, Germany, France, United Kingdom, and the United States. We reached a comprehensive agreement on Iran's nuclear program in 2015. We called it JCPOA or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. In the deal, my country agreed to take certain concrete steps to assuage the concerns of the United States primarily. The U.S., in turn, committed to remove sanctions and to cease impeding business with Iran. The deal was not a treaty to require signature or ratification by any side, but it became binding on all, as it was unanimously adopted by the United Nations Security Council.
On 11 occasions since, the U.N. nuclear watchdog has confirmed that Iran has implemented all its obligations. In contrast, the U.S. has consistently violated the agreement. Especially, by bullying others from doing business with Iran. In the last year or so, we've been told that President Trump is unhappy with the deal. And it now appears, that the response from some Europeans has been to offer the United States more concessions from our pocket. This appeasement entails promises of a new deal, that would include matters we all decided to exclude at the outset of our negotiations, including Iran's defensive capabilities and regional influence.
But please understand, on both issues, it is Iran and not the West that has serious grievances and much to demand. We have not attacked anyone in centuries, but we have been invaded. Most recently by Saddam Hussein, who was then backed by the U.S. and its regional allies. The West even actively prevented us from buying rudimentary means of defense. Even as Saddam Hussein showered both Iranian civilians and soldiers with chemical weapons. Despite that haunting experience, we still spent a fraction of countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on defense. And our missiles have a shorter range than those of Saudi Arabia. And unlike U.S. allies in the region, who have brainwashed, financed and armed groups such as al Qaeda, the Taliban and the ISIS, we have been pivotal in defeating these extremist thugs.
Let me make it absolutely clear once and for all: We will neither outsource our security nor will we renegotiate or add on to a deal we have already implemented in good faith. To put it in realistic terms, when you buy a house and move your family in, or demolish it build a skyscraper, you cannot come back two years later and try to renegotiate the price.
In the coming days, the United States will have to decide whether to finally abide by its obligations. Iran stands firm in the face of futile attempts at bullying. But if the U.S. continues to violate the agreement, or if it withdraws all together, we will exercise our right to respond in a manner of our choosing. Bluster or threats won't get the U.S. a new deal, particularly as it is not honoring the deal it has already made. Relying on cartoonish allegations, rehashed from more than a decade and dealt with by the IAEA, to make a case for nixing the deal, has fooled no one. Thus, the U.S. is well advised to finally start honoring its commitments, or it and only it will have to accept responsibility for the consequences of not doing so.