Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi says the Islamic Republic is more powerful than any time and cannot be easily pressured in the face of US plans to reimpose sanctions on the country.
“Iran’s authority and position are such that it cannot be easily pushed around. Today, Iran is in a more powerful position than the past,” Salehi told a joint press conference with EU Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete in Tehran Saturday,
Canete is in Tehran to reassure Iran that the European Union remains committed to salvaging a nuclear deal with Tehran despite US President Donald Trump’s decision to exit the accord and reimpose sanctions on the country.
“We have sent a message to our Iranian friends that as long as they are sticking to the agreement, the Europeans will… fulfill their commitment,” he said, adding the bloc hoped to boost trade with Iran.
Salehi said Iran hopes the European Union will fulfill its pledges “in the near future” after the bloc launched “the blocking statute” process on Friday to protect Europeans from US sanctions on Iran.
“However, until these promises are not implemented and put into practice, we could not speak firmly,” he said. “We hope that in the near future, we could witness the materialization of these pledges.”
Otherwise, “the Iranian nation should rest assured that we will press ahead on the path of progress with strength and firmness without any worries and there will be no serious problems even though there might be some disruptions which may slow down the pace but they cannot stop us,” Salehi added.
The European Union, he said, had made proposals and taken initial steps toward using the euro in dealings with the Islamic Republic.
Salehi also described US exit from the Iran nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as a foolish move.
Trump announced US withdrawal from the JCPOA on May 8 and vowed to reinstate US nuclear sanctions on Iran and impose “the highest level” of economic bans on the Islamic Republic.
Tehran has said it would make a decision on its future role in the nuclear agreement in the coming weeks following negotiations with the other signatories of the deal.
EU powers have scrambled to save the JCPOA and protect their businesses in Iran against the US sanctions.
Salehi said EU efforts to preserve the nuclear pact shows that “the JCPOA is a very important agreement in line with our national interests and regional interest as well as those of the international community.”
Iran’s nuclear chief further stressed that the US pullout of the JCPOA shows “the correct impression of senior government officials that the US cannot be trusted.”
Now the whole international community has come to the understanding that “the US is not a reliable and trustworthy country in international dealings,” he added.
Canete, for his part, said that preserving the nuclear deal, despite the US withdrawal, was “fundamental for peace in the region.”
“For sure there are clear difficulties with the sanctions,” the EU official said. “We will have to ask for waivers, for carve outs for the companies that make investments.”
Canete is due to meet Iran’s Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zanganeh and head of the Department of Environment Isa Kalantari later on Saturday, and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Sunday.