By AMIR VAHDAT
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s president on Wednesday ruled out any changes or additions to the 2015 nuclear deal, amid European efforts to convince U.S. President Donald Trump to stick with the landmark agreement.
French President Emmanuel Macron suggested during a state visit to Washington this week that there could be a way to move toward a “new agreement” that would address Trump’s concerns about so-called sunset provisions in the accord, as well as Iran’s ballistic missile program and involvement in Middle East conflicts, which were not part of the nuclear accord.
Britain, France and Germany, which also signed the deal along with Russia and China, want the U.S. to remain a part of it.
But Iranian President Hassan Rouhani appeared to throw cold water on those efforts Wednesday.
“I have spoken with Macron several times by phone, and one time in person at length. I have told him explicitly that we will not add anything to the deal or remove anything from it, even one sentence. The nuclear deal is the nuclear deal,” he said during a conference in the northwestern city of Tabriz. He suggested Macron has no right to amend an agreement signed by seven nations.
“As long as our interests are guaranteed we will remain in the deal, whether the U.S. remains or not,” Rouhani said. But he added that “if our benefits are not guaranteed, we will not remain in the deal, no matter what the circumstances are.”
Rouhani went on to lash out at Trump, saying: “You have no clue about politics, no clue about the law or international treaties. You are just a businessman, a tradesman. You are a tower builder. How is he going to pass judgment on international issues?”
He also dismissed Trump’s remarks during a press conference with Macron, when the U.S. leader said the Iranians “will have bigger problems than they’ve ever had before” if they restart their nuclear program.
“Mr. Trump thinks that it is just hot air when we say that if the nuclear deal falls apart, we will restart (our nuclear program) at a new speed which will be shocking to them. His threats are empty.”
Trump has called the nuclear accord “insane” and “ridiculous,” but he has declined to say whether he will withdraw the U.S. by a May 12 deadline he has set. The agreement required Iran to curb its nuclear enrichment program in exchange for relief from international sanctions.
The U.N. nuclear watchdog says Iran is meeting its commitments under the accord. European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Wednesday that the current deal is working effectively to keep Tehran from developing nuclear weapons and should be preserved for the future.
Israel, which was among the fiercest critics of the deal, has meanwhile welcomed Trump’s hard line.
Israeli Intelligence Minister Israel Katz said Wednesday that the nuclear deal must be “fundamentally amended, and if not — cancelled.” He said Macron and his European colleagues “must understand that putting heavy pressure on Iran today can prevent violence and perhaps war tomorrow.”