Iranians react with sadness, defiance to Trump

Tehran

Iranians reacted with a mix of sadness, resignation and defiance on Wednesday to US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal, with sharp divisions among officials on how best to respond.

Still hoping to salvage something from the deal, President Hassan Rouhani has instructed his foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to hold negotiations with the other five parties — Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia.

They have all signalled their consternation at Trump’s withdrawal, which includes an order for foreign businesses to wind down their Iranian operations within six months or face US penalties.

But while European leaders have defiantly said they will work to protect their trade ties, Iran’s leaders are sceptical.

“You want to continue the nuclear deal with the three European countries; I don’t have confidence in these three countries,” said supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in a televised speech.

“If you don’t succeed in obtaining a definitive guarantee — and I really doubt that you can — at that moment, we cannot continue like this,” he said.

Parliament speaker Ali Larijani said Europe had caved to US pressure before, having shut up shop under previous international sanctions in 2012-15.

“We can’t put much confidence in their statements about preserving the agreement, but it’s worth testing for a few weeks so that it’s clear to the world that Iran has tried all the avenues to a peaceful political resolution,” Larijani told parliament.

Seeking to show that he was not taking Trump’s announcement lying down, Rouhani said he had ordered Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation to prepare to resume uranium enrichment “without limit”.

“We will wait several weeks before applying this decision. We will speak with our friends and allies, the other members of the nuclear agreement,” he said in his televised speech immediately after Trump’s announcement.

Larijani warned that Trump only understood the “language of force” and that, if the negotiations with the other parties failed, Iran would have to use its nuclear programme to force the world “to see reason”.

AFP

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