Europe wants Tehran to save nuclear deal: Iran leader

Vastavam web: Iran’s top leader set out a series of conditions on Wednesday for European powers if they want Tehran to stay in a nuclear deal after the U.S. exit, including steps to safeguard trade with Tehran and guarantee Iranian oil sales. U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out earlier this month from the 2015 nuclear deal that lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbs to its nuclear programme, calling it deeply flawed. European powers see the international accord as the best chance of stopping Tehran developing a nuclear weapon and have intensified efforts to salvage it.

“European banks should safeguard trade with the Islamic Republic. We do not want to start a fight with these three countries (France, Germany and Britain) but we don’t trust them either,” Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said, issuing conditions for saving the nuclear pact on his website. He further said Britain, France and Germany must pledge they would not seek negotiations on Iran’s ballistic missile programme and on its regional activities, both of which were not covered by the nuclear pact but are now demanded by Washington.

Khamenei said that over the past two years the United States “has repeatedly violated” the nuclear deal but the Europeans had remained silent. He asked Europe to “make up for that silence” and to “stand up against (new) U.S. sanctions.” Khamenei also launched a fresh broadside at Washington’s rejection of the nuclear accord, saying the U.S. withdrawal showed the Islamic Republic could not deal with a country that did not abide by its commitments.

In his first public remarks since U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo demanded Iran make sweeping policy changes, Khamenei expressed revulsion at what he suggested was the casual and boastful way the Trump administration had abandoned the accord. In a clear reference to demands made by Pompeo that Tehran’s Middle East influence should be curbed, Khamenei said, “Iran’s presence in the region…is our strategic depth and no sensible government would give up on its strengthening features.”

Pompeo on Monday threatened Iran with “the strongest sanctions in history” if it did not scale back regional activities such as support for armed groups in Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen as well as the government side in Syria’s civil war.“ Iran was committed to the deal. They (the Americans) have no excuse. The International Atomic Energy Agency has repeatedly verified Iran’s commitment. But you see they (Americans) easily cancel this international agreement.”

“The current U.S. president will meet the same fate as his predecessors and will vanish from history,” he said, referring to Trump. France, one of several European powers dismayed by the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal, said Washington’s method of piling more sanctions on Tehran would reinforce the country’s dominant hardliners who opposed the pact in the first place.

And German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton that Europe remained “very, very united” in supporting the deal because it feared a proliferation of atomic weapons on its doorstep.