Top Iranian official warns Europe not to pay Trump 'ransom' over nuclear deal

The threats from Mr Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran's Supreme Council for National Security, have prompted pressure from European officials ahead of a May 12, 2018, deadline for US President Donald Trump's decision on the nuclear deal.
The threats from Mr Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran's Supreme Council for National Security, have prompted pressure from European officials ahead of a May 12, 2018, deadline for US President Donald Trump's decision on the nuclear deal.PHOTO: AFP

TEHERAN (AFP, REUTERS) - A top Iranian official on Tuesday (April 24) welcomed European powers' efforts to salvage a historic nuclear deal, but warned they should not simply hand over "a ransom" to US President Donald Trump.

Mr Trump has threatened not to renew the 2015 accord, which curbed Iran's nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.

His threats have prompted pressure from European officials ahead of a May 12 deadline for his decision.

"We have welcomed the insistence of the European Union on keeping America in the JCPOA (nuclear deal)," said Mr Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran's Supreme Council for National Security, in a televised press conference.

"But if this means degrading the Islamic republic of Iran or paying a ransom to Trump, the Europeans are making a strategic mistake," he said.

The European parties to the agreement - Britain, France, Germany and the European Union - have been trying to convince Mr Trump to stick to the accord.

French President Emmanuel Macron is currently in Washington, hoping to address Mr Trump's concerns and keep the US in the deal.

 
 
 
 

The White House has demanded tighter restrictions on Iran's regional behaviour and its nuclear and missile programmes.

But Iran says any talk of curbing its missile programme - which is central to its defence systems - is off limits.

"The Islamic republic of Iran will not allow any country, under any circumstances, to cross its red lines," said Mr Shamkhani.

Iran might withdraw from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) if  Mr Trump scraps the nuclear deal, Mr Shamkhani said. 

He told reporters in Teheran before departing for Russia that the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran was ready for some “surprising actions” if the nuclear deal was scrapped.

Answering a question about the possibility of Teheran withdrawing from the NPT, Mr Shamkhani said: “This is one of three options that we are considering.”