Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says Tehran’s measures to cushion the impact of US sanctions against the country will take US President Donald Trump by “surprise”.
Speaking in an interview with the Swiss newspaper Basler Zeitung published in German on Friday, Zarif pointed to the US’ bid to cut Iran’s oil exports down to zero, and said it is still unrealistic to think Washington can exclude Iran from the oil market.
However, he said, even if all customers of the Iranian crude oil decide to bow to the US pressure, the Islamic Republic has “other means” at its disposal.
Asked to disclose what those means are, Zarif said, “I will not say that. Trump loves the element of surprise, so we’ll entertain him.”
In response to a question on how long Iran will remain in the 2015 nuclear deal under the current circumstances, Zarif said, “That depends on the will of the Iranian nation. There was a vocal minority that was against the deal. But when people become even angrier, it could soon be a majority.”
“Still, according to one survey, 51 percent of people support us in staying in the agreement. But we cannot rule against the will of the people,” he added.
Back in May 2018, the US president unilaterally withdrew his country from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and imposed what he called the “toughest” sanctions ever on the Islamic Republic.
On January 31, France, Germany, and the UK launched a special payment mechanism named the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchange (INSTEX) in a bid to protect European business links with Tehran by circumventing the American bans.
The Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) is initially intended to be used for selling food, medicine and medical devices to Iran, but it could be expanded to cover other areas of trade in the future.
“When the US withdrew from the nuclear agreement, the other states entered into a series of commitments, which included 12 points. This financial mechanism is not one of them; it is only a prerequisite for the implementation of the promises,” Zarif said in the interview.
“The nuclear agreement provides for the normalization of economic relations [between Iran and the world]. A barter trading system like INSTEX is not normalization,” he added.
“We are ready to live with it, because we do not want to ask too much from the partners in Europe. But INSTEX is firstly not yet in operation, secondly the construction took nine months. And third, there must be money in there,” Zarif said.
“Money will only be there when there is trade, oil deals, and investment in Iran. That’s what’s needed.”