The Iranian foreign minister on Wednesday played down latest remarks by President Donald Trump on the possibility of Washington walking away from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the Iranian media reported. “I believe they have broken the spirit of the agreement,” Trump had told the Associated Press. “There is a spirit to agreements, and they have broken it.” Asked by the Iranian press on the sidelines of a cabinet session in Tehran about Trump’s statement, Javad Zarif replied: “Do not pay much attention to Trump’s words.”
Comment: While President Trump has not fulfilled his campaign promise of tearing up the Iran nuclear deal, his administration has adopted a tougher approach to dealing with Iran’s ballistic missile program and support for terrorism. Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also announcement that the administration was conducting an inter-agency review of whether the lifting of sanctions against Iran served U.S. national security interests. In a letter to Congress, Tillerson said Iran remained in compliance with the nuclear accord but added that the Islamic Republic continued to support terrorism and work on its controversial ballistic missile program.
Iran has said in the past that it will not renegotiate the nuclear deal. Zarif said last month that Tehran might itself walk away from the deal and restart its nuclear program if America “reneges on the deal” to the level that the deal “harms our national interests.”
On Monday, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) called on Washington to extend the suspension of U.S. nuclear-related sanctions against Iran, and stressed that a refusal to do so would constitute a violation of the nuclear accord. “Mr Trump is currently making loud statements; and it is not clear what decision he wants to take. [But] he has to suspend the sanctions statute once again on May 19,” said Ali Akbar Salehi. “If he doesn’t, an explicit non-performance of the JCPOA will have occurred; everyone agrees about that.” The Iranian official also emphasized that other parties to the nuclear agreement would not support unilateral American sanctions.