Iran defiant as Trump poised to make nuclear deal decision

Trump has threatened to withdraw from the nuclear deal on or before May 12 if his demands are not met [Reuters]

US President Donald Trump is poised to announce on Tuesday his decision whether to withdraw or stay in the Iran nuclear deal, as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that Tehran “will overcome” any “problems” it could face in the coming months. 

In a social media post late on Monday, Trump said he will make an announcement on Tuesday afternoon on the future of the 2015 agreement.

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In response to Trump’s announcement, Rouhani told reporters in Tehran on Tuesday that “it is possible that we could face some problems in the coming two to three months, but we will overcome this”.

Iran’s Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani also said on Tuesday that the decision by Trump will only serve to unite the country to walk “on the path of the Islamic Revolution fully behind the leadership of the Supreme Leader”.

Al Jazeera’s Zein Basrawi, reporting from Tehran, said leaders in Iran are “well aware that at this stage, the fate of the nuclear deal is out of their hands”.

He said that Rouhani administration, which supported the deal from beginning of the negotiation, is now in “damage-control” mode.  

“There’s a lot of the defiant tone that you are hearing.”

Earlier on Monday, Rouhani had said that the nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), would be “even better” without the participation of the US.

Rouhani also said that Iran is willing to stay in the deal with Europe, Russia and China, if its “expectations” are met.

“The US, from the very start, has been trying to curb Iran’s power, and today, whether they stay in the JCPOA or pull out, they are still after the same thing,” he said.

US’ allies in Europe have also been trying to convince Trump to preserve the international agreement, which has limited Iran‘s nuclear capabilities.

Regardless of Trump’s decision, the other parties to the Iran deal said they will not abadon it. 

‘Don’t throw the baby with the bathwater’

On Monday, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson appealed to Trump no to walk away from the deal during his visit to the US capital. 

Appearing on Fox News television, Johnson urged the US president “not to throw the baby out with the bathwater”.  

Rouhani lashes out at Trump, says no changes to nuclear deal

During his visit to Washington, DC, Johnson met with newly-installed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to discuss the future of the deal.  

A group of US Democrats also sent Trump a letter urging him to let America remain a part of the Iran nuclear deal.

Adnan Tabatabai, an Iran analyst and CEO at the Centre for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient in Bonn, said it would be “very difficult” to keep the deal without the US. 

“The past few weeks have not been too promising. A lot of political capital has been invested into keeping Trump compliant with the agreement,” he said.

“I am afraid the economic and political dividends the Iranians seek cannot be provided by the Europeans so easily.”  

Under the deal signed in Vienna in 2015, Iran scaled back its uranium enrichment programme and promised not to pursue nuclear weapons. In exchange, international sanctions were lifted, allowing it to sell its oil and gas worldwide. However, secondary US sanctions remain.

Since Trump came to office, however, he has taken several steps to block the deal.

In October, he refused to certify that Iran is living up to the accord. He also targeted several Iranian businesses and individuals with new sanctions.

On January 12, Trump announced he was waiving the US sanctions for the “last time”. He said if his demands to “fix the deal” were not met within 120 days, the US will withdraw from the deal on or before May 12.