Iranian leaders on Tuesday said they will defy Western pressure and will not renegotiate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the nuclear accord Tehran signed with world powers nearly three years ago. Several top Iranian officials also threatened to take drastic measures, including leaving the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), if the Trump administration terminates the nuclear accord and re-imposes sanctions on Tehran. “We increased the cost for the enemy over the past five years. And if the JCPOA collapses, we have a plan. If America tramples upon the JCPOA, it will pay the heaviest price for it in the world,” warned President Hassan Rouhani. Separately, Ali Shamkhani, the Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, said Tehran would leave NPT if its interests were at risk. Just before leaving Tehran for Russia, Shamkhani said the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) has “surprising” responses to any actions by Washington and its allies to cancel the nuclear agreement.
Comment: The warnings from Tehran come as President Donald Trump is facing a critical deadline on May 12 to either continue sanctions waiver or reinstate nuclear-related sanctions on Tehran and literally walk away from the JCPOA. In January, Trump reluctantly waived sanctions but emphasized that he was doing so for the last time and would “terminate” the deal unless European powers and US Congress come up with a plan to fix the loopholes of the Iran deal. Trump’s key demands were to make restrictions imposed on Iran within JCPOA permanent; force Iran to allow international inspectors to inspect the country’s military sites for any nuclear activities; curb Iran’s ballistic missile program; and push back against Iran’s malign activities in the Middle East. But as the May 12 deadline is approaching, neither Congress nor European powers have been able to draw up such a plan as Tehran has rejected all these demands.
However, in a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron this afternoon, Trump hinted that he is open to a French proposal to keep the Iran deal and expand its provisions to address Tehran’s missile program, regional role, and post-JCPOA nuclear activities. “Nobody knows what I’m going to do on the 12th, although Mr. President, you have a pretty good idea,” Trump said, pointing to Macron, who winked at him in approval. “But we’ll see. But we’ll see also if I do what some people expect, whether or not it will be possible to do a new deal with solid foundations. Because this is a deal with decayed foundations. It’s a bad deal. It’s a bad structure. It’s falling down. It should have never, ever been made.”
Tehran has threatened to also walk away from the deal and resume high-level nuclear enrichment if Washington leaves the accord.