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Iran defends UN nuclear deal with Trump

Ⓒ AFP – ANGELA WEISS – | Iranian President Hassan Rohani in front of the UN, 20 September 2017 New York.

Iran will respect the nuclear agreement of 2015 but react with “determination” if Donald Trump, described as “thug”, should denounce it, warned Wednesday the Iranian president Hassan Rohani before the UN, the day after a virulent speech of the American president.

“We have deceived no one” in the application of the agreement, but Tehran “will react with determination” to any violation of the text, Rohani added, as the United States threatens more and more to denounce the ‘agreement. “It would be a shame if the agreement were destroyed by new thugs in international politics,” he said.

On Tuesday, the US president attacked Iran by calling it a “rogue state” and “corrupt dictatorship”, at the same forum of the United Nations General Assembly. In his speech, the Iranian president has been a champion of “moderation” and “democracy”.

The arm of iron will be on the menu later in the day in New York of a meeting of the signatory countries of the historical text, which will give the first meeting between the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif since the change in US administration in January.

At the heart of the crisis between the two countries, the agreement signed by Tehran and the major powers – including the United States – that Donald Trump is devoting to grievances.

Ⓒ AFP – TIMOTHY A. CLARY – | US President Donald Trump, on 20 September 2017 at the United Nations General Assembly in New York

The US president must “certify” by mid-October to the Congress that Tehran is fulfilling its commitments, supposed to guarantee the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear program. A non-certification would pave the way for a re-imposition of sanctions already lifted, which according to some European diplomats would amount to a “political death” of the agreement.

A return of the sanctions, casus belli for Tehran, risks to shatter a pact built on their gradual lifting in exchange for the Iranian commitment not to endow the atomic weapon.

– ’50 / 50 ‘-

The republican billionaire assured Wednesday that he already made his decision, but without saying more. “What is clear is that he is not happy with this deal,” said US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley on the CBS television channel.

The other signatories are concerned: France, Great Britain, Russia, China and Germany. “We are always urging the United States not to tear it apart. I have to say that the chances are perhaps 50/50,” British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told the Guardian newspaper.

“The JCPOA (acronym of the agreement) is an important result of multilateralism. It is an example of how to solve an international crisis through politics and diplomacy,” said Chinese diplomacy.

Apart from Israel’s support, the United States is isolated, especially since the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which is responsible for verifying compliance with the Iranian commitments, has consistently validated their attitude since the conclusion of the Agreement in July 2015.

“The agreement belongs to the international community and not to one or two countries,” Hassan Rohani told the UN, quoting almost word for word a formula from the head of European diplomacy Federica Mogherini.

– Pyongyang ‘watch closely’ –

To try to save it, negotiations seem to be going on behind the scenes to bring “complements” to what was done in 2015.

The United States will remain in the agreement only if “changes” are “introduced”, because the text “must really be revisited,” warned Tuesday Rex Tillerson. According to him, “the most flagrant flaw” is that it “only postpones the problem”.

Ⓒ AFP – LUDOVIC MARIN – | French Presidents Emmanuel Macron (G) and Iranian Hassan Rohani (d), at a meeting in New York, on September 18, 2017

“We must keep the 2015 agreement because it is a good deal,” French President Emmanuel Macron pleaded Wednesday. But he proposed to “add two or three other pillars” that seem to respond to US concerns: “One for better control of ballistic missiles and ballistic activities, which are not covered by the 2015 agreement; after 2025 because the agreement does not cover the situation after 2025, and a third to open discussions with Iran on the current situation in the region. ”

Washington blames Tehran for “destabilizing” the Middle East, especially in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.

If President Rohani did not reply to these proposals in his speech, according to French diplomats, any reopening of the debates remains for the moment a “red line” for the Iranians.

Several diplomats are also concerned about the negative repercussions of a US volte-face on Iran, while the international community is still hoping to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table to make it renounce its own nuclear ambitions.

According to Stewart Patrick, a researcher at the Council on Foreign Relations, “North Koreans are watching closely how Iran is being treated,” to see “what would be their fate if they ever wanted to give up their nuclear weapons.”

Behnam Ben Taleblu, of the conservative lobby group Foundation for Defense of Democracies, who is very critical of the Iranian agreement, believes that a “tough line against Tehran” would strengthen the “credibility of the United States” force in any future negotiations with North Korea.

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