TEHERAN (REUTERS, AFP) - Iran’s Parliament introduced a motion on Wednesday (May 9) calling for “proportional and reciprocal” action by the government after the United States withdrew from a nuclear accord Teheran agreed with world powers in 2015, according to Fars News.
Mr Hojatoleslam Mojtaba Zulnouri, who heads the nuclear committee in Parliament, said the motion asks President Hassan Rouhani’s government to secure “necessary guarantees” from the remaining signatories to the nuclear deal. They include Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China.
Mr Zulnouri, a lawmaker from the city of Qom, did not specify what guarantees should be sought, but said if they are not met, then Iran should resume high-level uranium enrichment.
Mr Ali Mottahari, a lawmaker from Teheran, said there was a “limited opportunity” for European powers to “bring a solid guarantee” that would allow Iran to stick with the deal.
“But if this doesn’t happen, then it’s possible that we will exit the nuclear deal or take other steps,” he told news agency IRNA.
US President Donald Trump is not fit for his job, the Speaker of Iran’s Parliament said on Wednesday, according to the website of the Iranian judiciary, in Teheran’s most personal criticism since Mr Trump’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear pact.
“Trump does not have the mental capacity to deal with issues,” Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said on the judiciary’s website, Mizan.
Members of Parliament burned an American flag and a symbolic copy of the Iran deal, known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as a session of Parliament began.
They also chanted “Death to America”, according to the Iranian Students’ News Agency.
Iran’s Tasnim news site reported that Mr Larijani also said the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran should be ready to resume all nuclear activities.
“Trump’s abandoning of the nuclear deal was a diplomatic show... Iran has no obligation to honour its commitments under the current situation... It is a threat to peace and security... I am not sure whether the European signatories of the deal will fulfill their promises,” Mr Larijani said.
“It is obvious that Trump only understands the language of force.”
General Mohammad Baqeri, the chief of staff of Iran’s military, said Iran did not have to sign the deal.
“But that arrogant country (America) did not even stand by its signature,” the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) quoted him as saying.
President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday that Iran would remain committed to the multi-national nuclear deal, designed to deny Teheran the ability to build nuclear weapons, despite Mr Trump’s decision to withdraw from it.
“If we achieve the deal’s goals in cooperation with other members of the deal, it will remain in place... By exiting the deal, America has officially undermined its commitment to an international treaty,” Mr Rouhani said in a televised speech.
“I have ordered the Foreign Ministry to negotiate with the European countries, China and Russia in coming weeks. If at the end of this short period we conclude that we can fully benefit from the JCPOA with the cooperation of all countries, the deal would remain,” he added.
The JCPOA was struck in 2015 between Iran, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France – and Germany.
Mr Rouhani warned that Iran was ready to resume its curbed nuclear activities if Iran’s interests were not guaranteed under a deal without the United States.
“If needed, we will resume our nuclear enrichment at the industrial level without any limit,” Mr Rouhani said. “From now on, everything depends on Iran’s national interests.”
Under the 2015 deal, Iran stopped producing 20 per cent enriched uranium and gave up the majority of its stockpile in return for most international sanctions on it being lifted.
“In response to US persistent violations & unlawful withdrawal from the nuclear deal, as instructed by President Rouhani, I’ll spearhead a diplomatic effort to examine whether remaining JCPOA participants can ensure its full benefits for Iran. Outcome will determine our response,” Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mr Mohammad Javad Zarif, said on Twitter.
Mr Trump’s announcement was hailed by Washington’s principal allies in the Middle East, Israel and Saudi Arabia, both sworn foes of Iran.
Mr Trump on Tuesday pulled the United States out of the deal, raising the risk of conflict in the Middle East, upsetting European allies and casting uncertainty over global oil supplies.
Iran’s press on Wednesday Mr Trump’s withdrawal from the multi-party nuclear deal, but was divided over whether Teheran should react with patience or withdraw itself.
“The nuclear deal without the trouble-maker,” was the headline in one of the leading reformist papers, Etemad.
It reprinted a tweet by President Hassan Rouhani on its front page: “We have been freed from the evil of someone who does not respect their commitments. The nuclear deal will continue if Iran’s interests are assured.”
Another reformist daily, Aftab, spoke of “Teheran’s logical decision” to stay in the landmark 2015 deal with the help of the other signatories – Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and the European Union.
The conservative dailies took a sharply different tack.
“Trump has torn up the nuclear deal, it is time for us to burn it,” said the hardline Kayhan newspaper, echoing a recent threat by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Kayhan has been one of the fiercest critics of the agreement, under which Iran vowed to curb its nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.
“Iran will be united and will resist,” was the headline of conservative paper Javan.
“It is time for unity and not for blaming others. It is the occasion for a renewal of Iran. Our slogan ‘Death to America’ is not just a slogan – the United States is effectively dead in our eyes,” it said in an editorial.
Other conservatives were sceptical about the ability of Iran’s government to salvage the agreement with the help of European powers.
“Europe does not have the capacity to maintain the nuclear deal,” said daily Farheekhtegan. “The result of all their bargaining with Trump has just been more pressure on Iran.”