Iran FM hopeful of forging 'clear future' for nuclear deal on diplomatic tour





Iran's foreign minister said Sunday he was hopeful of forging a "clear future design" for the nuclear deal facing collapse after Washington's withdrawal, at the start of a diplomatic tour aimed at rescuing the agreement.

"We hope that with this visit to China and other countries we will be able to construct a clear future design for the comprehensive agreement," Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters after talks in Beijing with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.

Zarif will later fly to Moscow and Brussels to consult the remaining signatories to the 2015 agreement denounced by US President Donald Trump.

Washington's decision to withdraw from the deal and reimpose sanctions angered its European allies as well as China and Russia.

But on Sunday US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington was keen to hammer out a new agreement with its European partners to counter Tehran's "malign behaviour".

China was one of the six powers -- with the United States, Russia, France, the UK and Germany -- that signed the historic pact, which saw sanctions lifted in return for the commitment by Tehran not to acquire nuclear weapons.

As he arrived in Beijing, Zarif said Tehran was "ready for all option(s)", according to the semi-official ISNA news agency.

"If the nuclear deal is to continue, the interests of the people of Iran must be assured," he added.

After their meeting, Zarif and Wang hailed the "comprehensive strategic partnership" between their countries, with the Chinese minister saying: "I hope and believe that these visits to multiple countries will... help protect Iran's legitimate national interests and peace and stability in the region."

Tehran's chief diplomat embarked on the tour as regional tensions spiked just days after unprecedented Israeli strikes in Syria which a monitor said killed at least 11 Iranian pro-regime fighters, triggering fears of a broader conflict between the two arch-enemies.

- 'Extremist administration' -

Before leaving, Zarif published a government statement on his Twitter page, slamming Trump's "extremist administration" for abandoning "an accord recognised as a victory of diplomacy by the international community".

It reiterated that Iran was preparing to resume "industrial scale" uranium enrichment "without any restrictions" unless Europe provided solid guarantees it could maintain trade ties despite renewed US sanctions.

Trump shot back, claiming in a tweet on Saturday that Tehran had exploited the lifting of sanctions to bolster its military and increased its defence spending by 40 percent since 2015, when the pact was agreed.

Washington's top diplomat Pompeo later said the US was looking to thrash out a new wide-ranging deal with Europe "that achieves the outcomes that protect America".

"I'm hopeful in the days and weeks ahead we can come up with a deal that really works, that really protects the world from Iranian bad behaviour, not just their nuclear programme, but their missiles and their malign behaviour as well," Pompeo told Fox News Sunday.

"And I will work closely with the Europeans to try and achieve that."

But European diplomats in Tehran fumed that Washington's withdrawal could undermine years of patient work to restore commercial and diplomatic ties with the Islamic Republic.

"Since the signing of the JCPOA (nuclear deal), we have gone from an atmosphere like a gold rush, to one of utter depression," said a Western trade diplomat on condition of anonymity.

"We are waiting now for how the decision-makers in the European Union will react. If the EU leans towards accommodating the US, all the progress we have made since 2015 will be lost."

- Iran hardliners fight back -

Iranian hardliners -- who have long opposed President Hassan Rouhani's moves to improve ties with the West -- are already mobilising against the efforts to save the nuclear deal.

Mohammad Ali Jafari, head of the Revolutionary Guards, said the country could not rely on the West.

"We hope recent events will lead us not to trust in the West and even Europeans," he said Sunday, according to the conservative-linked Fars news agency.

"The Europeans have repeated on several occasions that they will not be able to resist US sanctions."

The sentiment was echoed on the streets.

"Officials shouldn't trust France and Britain. They will never abandon the US for us," said housewife Poormoslem at a protest against Trump on Friday.

A photo on the official Instagram site of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei showed him reading a Farsi translation of Michael Wolff's blistering account of the Trump White House, "Fire and Fury", quickly picking up more than 100,000 likes.

Khamenei said last week he was highly doubtful that Europe would provide the "real guarantees" needed for Iran to stay in the nuclear deal.

But analysts said Iran was determined to maintain the moral high ground in the coming weeks.

"For the first time, Iran has the chance to show the world they are not the rogue nation they are always presented as, that they negotiated in good faith and keep to their commitments," said Karim Emile Bitar of the Institute for International and Strategic Studies in Paris.

burs-ia/mdl/jta/fa/amu/je

COMMENTS

More Related News

Ex-Trump lawyer Cohen delaying testimony to Congress
Ex-Trump lawyer Cohen delaying testimony to Congress

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, will not testify before a House committee next month as scheduled, his adviser said Wednesday, depriving Democrats for now of a prime opportunity to scrutinize Trump, his links to Russia and payments to buy the silence of a

No. 3 House Democrat floats possible $5.7 billion in border funding
No. 3 House Democrat floats possible $5.7 billion in border funding

The No. 3 Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday raised the possibility of approving $5.7 billion in funding to secure the U.S. border though various means but not by building a wall. Referring to Republican President Donald Trump's demand for $5.7 billion to build a barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border, U.S. House Majority Whip James Clyburn told reporters, "We see ourselves fulfilling that request" with a "smart wall." The consideration comes as U.S. lawmakers this week seek to forge a path out of the partial government shutdown as it entered its 33rd day on Wednesday. Trump has said the $5.7 billion would be for the wall in addition to other funds for border...

Supreme Court allows Trump's partial military ban on transgender people in military to take effect
Supreme Court allows Trump's partial military ban on transgender people in military to take effect

The Supreme Court will allow Trump's partial ban on transgender people serving in the military to take effect while court challenges continue.

3 groups, many videos, many interpretations of DC encounter
3 groups, many videos, many interpretations of DC encounter

Dozens of white Catholic high school students visiting Washington for a rally to end abortion. At first the focus was on a short video showing one of the high school students, Nick Sandmann, wearing a red "Make America Great Again" hat and appearing to smirk while a crowd of other teens laughed

Giuliani backtracks on comments Trump sought Moscow deal throughout 2016
Giuliani backtracks on comments Trump sought Moscow deal throughout 2016

Giuliani told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday that Trump may have continued to pursue the project and had discussions about it with his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, until as late as October or November 2016, when Trump was closing in on his election victory over Democrat Hillary

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Latin America

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.