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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

Ayatollah Khamenei: Iran will scrap nuclear deal if it doesn't serve interests

Pressure mounts for Europe to clarify their position on relations with the country

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaking during a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his cabinet in Tehran, Iran. EPA
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaking during a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his cabinet in Tehran, Iran. EPA

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday that his government should abandon the nuclear deal if it was no longer in the country's interest, putting pressure on Europe to reaffirm their commitment to positive relations with the country.

"The JCPOA (nuclear deal) is not the objective, it is only a means," he said in a meeting with the cabinet and President Hassan Rouhani.

"Naturally, if we reach the conclusion that it is no longer maintaining our national interests, we will put it aside."

The threat comes amid a lack of clarity on the future of the 2015 nuclear deal after the United States pulled out in May, leaving European allies torn between loyalty to the US and the maintenance of the deal.

Mr Khamenei said "hope should be abandoned" in relation to the nuclear deal, presenting Europe with the choice of reaffirming their commitment to the deal or risk losing it altogether.

“There is no problem with continuing relations and negotiations with Europe, but hope should be abandoned regarding matters such as the nuclear deal,” Mr Khamenei said in the meeting.

He also said he would not negotiate with "indecent" US officials at any level. But the economic costs of US sanctions are starting to bite, with high unemployment, a weak currency, and rising prices hitting Iranians.

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On Tuesday, while answering in parliament questions on Iran's deteriorating economy, President Rouhani, promised to defeat "anti-Iranian" officials in the White House, placing the blame for the country's economic woes at the feet of US President Donald Trump.

The US pulled out of the deal at the request of Mr Trump, who has since issued a warning to America's trade partners saying they must choose between trading with the US or Iran.

Tehran is seeking to clarify the position of European partners on the deal before the next round of US sanctions come into effect on November 4, which will target energy sectors and make it harder to make international payments to Iranian businesses.

European officials have enacted legislation to ban compliance with US sanctions, but a number of European companies have already withdrawn from deals with Iran, and many more are investing in finding more ways of circumnavigating the sanctions.

Updated: August 29, 2018 06:07 PM

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