US will regret if it quits nuclear deal, says Iran

TEHERAN • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said yesterday that if the United States quits the nuclear deal between Teheran and world powers, then Washington would regret it "like never before".

US President Donald Trump Trump has threatened to withdraw from the agreement when it comes up for renewal on Saturday, demanding his country's European allies "fix the terrible flaws" or he will re-impose sanctions.

"If the United States leaves the nuclear agreement, you will soon see that they will regret it like never before in history," the reformist Mr Rouhani said in a televised speech in north-western Iran.

"Trump must know that our people are united, the Zionist regime (Israel) must know that our people are united," he said. "Today all (Iran's) political factions, whether they be from the right, the left, the conservatives, reformers and moderates are united."

Mr Rouhani did not specify how Iran would react if the US pulls out of the 2015 deal. But he said that he had given "the necessary orders", notably to Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, in anticipation of Mr Trump's decision.

The nuclear deal was struck in 2015 between Iran and Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the US, then led by Mr Barack Obama. Under the pact, sanctions were eased in return for a commitment not to pursue a nuclear bomb, but Iran says it is not reaping the rewards despite its compliance.

Mr Trump has consistently complained about the agreement, citing perceived flaws including "sunset" provisions lifting some nuclear restrictions from 2025.

In a call with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Saturday, Mr Trump "underscored his commitment to ensure that Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon", the White House said.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is also visiting Washington this week in an effort to salvage the pact.

French President Emmanuel Macron has recently pushed to extend the scope of the deal to address this issue, as well as the absence of any limits on Iran's conventional missile capabilities and Teheran's role in the region.

Mr Macron has warned that war could ensue if the US withdraws from the deal.

"We would open the Pandora's box. There could be war," Mr Macron told German weekly magazine Der Spiegel.

But he added: "I don't think that Donald Trump wants war."

Mr Rouhani also said that while he is open to discussing the country's regional role, he would not abandon what he described as its fight "against terrorism".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 07, 2018, with the headline 'US will regret if it quits nuclear deal, says Iran'. Print Edition | Subscribe