Iran president threatens Europe, dismisses idea of new nuclear deal

It marks the first time Rouhani has threatened Europe amid tensions with the United States.
Wednesday 15/01/2020
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks in a meeting in Tehran, January 14. (Office of the Iranian Presidency via AP)
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks in a meeting in Tehran, January 14. (Office of the Iranian Presidency via AP)

TEHRAN — Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is warning that European soldiers deployed in the Middle East “may be in danger” after Britain, France and Germany challenged Tehran over breaking limits of its 2015 nuclear deal.

Rouhani made the comment Wednesday during a televised Cabinet meeting. It comes after the European nations started a dispute process over Iran breaking limits from the accord.

It marks the first time Rouhani has threatened Europe amid tensions with the US, which unilaterally withdrew from the deal in May 2018 under US President Donald Trump.

Rouhani dismissed on Tuesday a proposal for a new “Trump deal” aimed at resolving a nuclear row, saying it was a “strange” offer and criticising the US president for always breaking promises.

In the televised speech, Rouhani told Washington to return to the 2015 nuclear pact between Tehran and world powers, adding that Iran could reverse its moves to scale back its commitments under the pact.

Separately, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Wednesday the country’s 2015 nuclear deal signed with major powers – China, Russia, France, Britain, the United States and Germany – to curb its nuclear program is ‘not dead’.

“No, it’s not dead. It’s not dead,” Zarif told Reuters on the sidelines of an event in New Delhi.

Iran’s top diplomat acknowledged Wednesday that Iranians “were lied to” for days following the Islamic Republic accidentally shooting down a Ukrainian jetliner, killing 176 people.

The comments by Zarif in New Delhi represent the first time an Iranian official referred to the earlier story that a technical malfunction downed the Ukraine International Airlines flight as a lie.

The shootdown has sparked days of angry protests in the country.

“In the last few nights, we’ve had people in the streets of Tehran demonstrating against the fact that they were lied to for a couple of days,” Zarif said.

Zarif went onto praise Iran’s military for being “brave enough to claim responsibility early on.”

However, he said that he and president Rouhani only learned that a missile had down the flight on Friday, raising new questions over how much power Iran’s civilian government has in its Shiite theocracy. Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, which shot down the aircraft, knew immediately afterward its missile downed the airline.

The Guard is answerable only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is expected to preside over Friday prayers in Iran for the first time in years over anger about the crash.

(AW and agencies)