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Iran threatens “drastic measures” if US leaves nuclear deal

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Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has warned of serious consequences if the US leaves the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement in May.

Zarif was speaking to CBS programme Face the Nation in New York on Sunday about US President Donald Trump’s 12 May deadline for the nuclear deal signatories to “fix” the deal or if they do not do so to his liking he says he will no longer waive US sanctions on Iran.

Zarif said that Trump’s threat to pull out of the JCPOA nuclear agreement sends a “very dangerous message” about the wisdom of negotiating a deal with the US because “at the end of the day, the operating principle of the US is ‘what’s mine is mine, what’s yours is negotiable’. The situation is creating an impression globally that agreements don’t matter.”

Zarif also claimed it was “highly unlikely” that Iran would remain part of the agreement if the US pulled out. “It’s very important for Iran to receive the benefits of the agreement. There’s no way that Iran would do a one-sided implementation of it,” he said.

When asked what Iran would do if the US pulled out of the nuclear deal, the Foreign Minister said Iran could issue a complaint though the dispute mechanism set up in the agreement, leave the deal and restart nuclear activities, or adopt more “drastic measures,” which he declined to specify.

French President Emmanuel Macron will arrive to the US today for a state visit and is expected to discuss the nuclear deal with Trump. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is visiting the US on Friday and is also expected to try to convince the President to remain in the deal.

Zarif said: “If the European countries want to preserve the deal they have to make it sustainable for Iran … they need to impose pressure on the United States in order to compel the US, encourage the US to implement what it undertook under the deal. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been doing that.”

Zarif also denied that Iran has any military bases inside Syria, saying his nation’s presence was limited to military advisers stationed inside Syrian bases. In a ceremony in honour of Israel’s 70th Independence Day, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “There is a tremendous gap between his words and the actions of the Revolutionary Guards which are moving an army against Israel with the avowed goal of destroying the State of Israel.”