Source: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Iran Says It Won’t Quit Nuclear Deal First, Calls on Europe to Act

Updated on
  • Khamenei says ‘won’t rip up nuclear deal’ if others don’t
  • Supreme Leader’s first comment since Trump speech last week

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran would not move first to abandon the nuclear deal with world powers, his first statement since U.S. President Donald Trump called the pact into question last week.

“We won’t rip up the nuclear deal, as long as the other side doesn’t,” Khamenei, the highest authority in Iran, said in a public address on Wednesday. If the other side “rips it, we will tear it to pieces,” he said.

Trump’s speech on Friday formalized a hardened stance and included his refusal to certify Iran’s compliance with the 2015 accord, in effect putting pressure on the U.S. Congress to craft new legislation that would further isolate the country -- and creating a dilemma for European allies. Trump said the deal, reached under his predecessor, wasn’t serving national security interests and that Iran’s aggression had intensified since it was signed.

All other parties to the deal, including the U.K. and France, maintain that Iran has been abiding by its terms, and the European Union rushed to defend the agreement after Trump’s speech. But while Khamenei welcomed the backing of European leaders, he also said it was “not enough” and warned them not to align with the U.S.

Trump promised new sanctions on Iran, particularly its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and threatened to terminate the agreement unless parties address what he says are its shortcomings. He requested that Congress set specific trigger points that would automatically re-impose sanctions unless Iran meets a list of U.S. demands, including to curb its ballistic missile program.

Europe must “stand up” to the U.S. and “stay away from our defense matters,” Khamenei said. “We won’t accept that they align with U.S. oppressive talk.”

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