The Washington Post Sunday

Trump isn’t sincere about Iran talks

- BY HASSAN ROUHANI The writer is president of Iran.

Ifaced two options on May 8, when President Trump announced the United States’ official withdrawal from the nuclear agreement with Iran, officially known as the Joint Comprehens­ive Plan of Action (JCPOA). I could have reciprocat­ed and announced Iran’s withdrawal, which was certain to throw the region into further insecurity and instabilit­y. Or I could have considered a short grace period for the remaining parties to compensate for the adverse effects of the United States’ decision on the valuable accord that had been achieved after 12 years of tough, intensive negotiatio­ns. In keeping with our tradition of respect for the rule of law and norms of internatio­nal law, and to safeguard peace and security in the region, I opted for the latter.

The United States expected a hasty Iranian withdrawal so that it could easily forge an internatio­nal alliance against Iran and automatica­lly revive previous sanctions. Our action, instead, thwarted such a move. The talks with the remaining JCPOA participan­ts, and their reiteratio­n of compliance with the accord, placed the United States in a lonely position. Such a serious chasm between the United States and its European partners on a critical foreign policy matter was unique and unpreceden­ted — which, I can say, proved that we were right in our approach to the nuclear deal and our proactive diplomacy.

Current U.S. foreign policy toward Iran is out of step with the realities on the ground — in Iran, in the region and around the world. I would argue that it is not even in line with U.S. national interests. Fed by disinforma­tion and fake analysis from terrorist groups and Israel, the U.S. administra­tion is under the illusion that resorting to sanctions will lead to concession­s from Iran. Iranians, though, are known to close ranks and put up stiff resistance in the face of external pressure. The United States, through its pervasive sanctions regime, failed to force Iranians to yield during the pre-JCPOA period. It was the United States that changed tack and opted for negotiatio­ns.

In our current talks with the remaining JCPOA participan­ts, we have emphasized that safeguardi­ng the longterm interests of the Iranian people is paramount to us. If these interests can still be secured despite the United States’ exit from the accord, we will remain in the deal; otherwise, we will pursue a different course of action. Our logic is simple and straightfo­rward: Either all parties to the deal will benefit, or none will. Silence in the face of open U.S. bullying of other countries to cut economic and trade relations with Iran, in blatant contravent­ion of the establishe­d rules of internatio­nal law, is simply not acceptable, and not an option for us.

Trump’s offer of direct talks with Iran is not honest or genuine. How can we be convinced of his sincerity while his secretary of state has gone so far as to set a long list of openly insulting preconditi­ons for talks? Worse still, how can we trust the U.S. government now that it has officially reneged on its internatio­nal commitment­s, most notably U.N. Security Council resolution 2231? How can Iran, and others, trust the United States while it is threatenin­g to punish other countries for the implementa­tion of the same U.N. resolution it sponsored and voted for? The United States’ resorting to sanctions against Iran and the Iranian people — including, in particular, making it harder for ordinary people to have access to medicine, or denying them safe travel on new airplanes purchased by Iranian carriers — is totally unjustifie­d and unacceptab­le. Bent on hatred and seeking revenge, the U.S. government’s pretension­s of support for the Iranian people are hollow, hypocritic­al and unconvinci­ng.

I am confident that the U.S. government will have to change course once again. Regardless, our talks with our trading partners are well underway, promising a bright future for our internatio­nal interactio­ns. It has now become crystal clear that most countries in the world oppose U.S. unilateral­ism and abhor being bullied. Even if in the short term we face difficulti­es in our economic relations, we, along with our partners, will try to resolve those problems, and these days will pass.

We are committed to talks and dialogue — that’s why we entered the negotiatio­ns on the nuclear issue in the first place, and ultimately arrived at a solid and mutually beneficial deal. The proof of good intentions on the part of all parties to the deal, particular­ly the United States, lies in the honest and full compliance with its provisions. It is on the record that during the negotiatio­ns on the nuclear dossier, our supreme leader said that the other side’s honesty would pave the way for further talks on issues of mutual interest. Washington’s insincere approach toward the implementa­tion of the deal, from day one all the way through its ultimate illegal exit, is indicative of the lack of honesty in the implementa­tion of its internatio­nal obligation­s.

Modern history attests to the fact that Iran has not engaged in any external aggression during the past 250 years. It has, however, fiercely resisted foreign aggression and interventi­on. Peace is our arsenal, and we are committed to reciprocat­e each and every genuine and honest peaceful gesture and measure. On this we are resolute and steadfast.

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