Rouhani stresses importance of European position on nuclear deal


The European response to Donald Trump's position on the Iran nuclear deal will be more important than what Trump himself decides, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday.

"Trump will either reject the deal or – if not – sabotage it," Rouhani said in comments broadcast by Iranian state television.  It was more important to him "whether the Europeans distance themselves from his stance or not," Rouhani said.

Trump has been threatening to pull out of the agreement, negotiated in 2015 between Tehran and six world powers, including France and Germany.

A May 12 deadline is looming for Washington to officially renew its support for the deal.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was due in Washington on Sunday as part of a last-ditch diplomatic effort to persuade Trump to stay in the deal. Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel, the leaders of France and Germany, have also lobbied Trump. Johnson is to meet with Vice President Mike Pence, national security adviser John Bolton and foreign policy leaders in Congress.

Many in Iran are of the opinion that Trump's decision on whether to pull out of the deal won't be a crucial factor. Iran wants to implement the deal's agreements, especially the economic portions.

Since the deal and the consequent lifting of sanctions, Iran has started several trade projects with the EU. In order to complete them, Iran is asking the EU to make a decision independent of the United States.

Rouhani warned the U.S. of "historic remorse" if it leaves the deal, but added that even if does fall apart, Iran will not start a nuclear weapons programme – not because of threats from abroad, but instead based on religious obligations in Islam.

What Iran won't give up, however and will continue to pursue is its civil nuclear programme, he said, though he also stressed that Iran didn't want international relations to break off either.

The deal was crafted to temper the West's worries that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons. It offers to loosen economic sanctions in exchange for strict controls on Iranian nuclear activity.    (dpa)

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