TEHRAN, Aug 3, (Agencies): Iran said new sanctions imposed by US President Donald Trump on Wednesday break the terms of its nuclear deal with the United States and other world powers, and vowed an “appropriate and proportional” response.
Trump, who during his election campaign called the nuclear agreement — negotiated under his predecessor Barack Obama — “the worst deal ever”, signed the new sanctions into law along with measures against Russia and North Korea.
Iran had already said it would complain to the body that oversees the 2015 deal — under which it accepted curbs on its nuclear programme in return for sanctions relief — about the measures passed in Congress last week in response to a missile development programme and human rights abuses.
“In our view the nuclear deal has been violated and we will show an appropriate and proportional reaction to this issue,” Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said in an interview with state TV, according to the ISNA news agency.
While Russia has reacted to the sanctions by ejecting US embassy staff, Iran has no diplomatic relations or direct trade links with the United States so its options are limited. Araqchi said Tehran’s response would be “intelligent”.
“The main goal of America in approving these sanctions against Iran is to destroy the nuclear deal and we will show a very intelligent reaction to this action,” Araqchi said.
“We are definitely not going to act in a way that get us entangled in the politics of the American government and Trump.”
The new US sanctions, signed a day before Iranian President Hassan Rouhani takes part in a ceremony before being sworn in for a second term, are likely to embolden his hardline critics who say the nuclear deal was a form of capitulation.
The United States is one of six countries to sign up to the deal with Iran, and the others — Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — have said they see it as a success in easing concerns that Iran might be trying to develop nuclear weapons.
The deal has also meant European countries flocking back to invest in oil-rich Iran, with France’s Total agreeing to develop a new phase of the South Pars gas field, the world’s largest.
Araqchi said the Europeans would not allow Trump to destroy the nuclear deal.
“What Total did and the contract that was signed between this company and Iran sent a message from Europe to the Americans that whatever the conditions they will continue their economic relations with Iran,” he said.
In a separate announcement, Tehran confirmed that Rouhani would keep on two important ministers for his second term: Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh, who is largely credited for closing the Total deal, and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s lead negotiator in the nuclear agreement.
Meanwhile, Iran’s supreme leader on Thursday slammed the new US sanctions on Tehran signed by President Trump the previous day, and vowed his country would continue its missile program despite international pressure.
Washington will “use any excuse to make a fuss” against Iran, said Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, speaking at a ceremony marking the formal endorsement of President Hassan Rouhani for his second term in office.
“You launch a satellite-carrying missile, they make noise,” he said, describing the Iranian launch as a “scientific and technical job that is routine and necessary.”
“The response to the hostility is to become stronger,” Khamenei added and described the US government as “the top aggressor and the most shameless “enemy of Iran.
“Some have sharply applied hostility (against Iran), like those who today are in office in the US,” Khamenei said, without mentioning Trump or the US president’s signing of the legislation on Wednesday.
The law also imposed new sanctions on Russia and North Korea.
According to a letter sent to the UN Security Council and obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press, the United States and three Western allies called Iran’s recent launch of a satellite-carrying rocket “a threatening and provocative step” that is “inconsistent” with a UN resolution endorsing the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
Iran last week launched the country’s most advanced satellite-carrying rocket into space, marking the most significant step forward for the Islamic State’s young space program.
In the letter to the Security Council, the US, France, Germany and the United Kingdom complained that the Simorgh space launch vehicle, if configured as a ballistic missile, would have the range and “payload capacity to carry a nuclear warhead.”
Iran maintains the 2015 nuclear deal that put caps on its uranium enrichment program — a possible pathway to nuclear weapons — and the Security Council resolution endorsing that deal do not ban the country from ballistic missile activity. Russia, one of the five world powers that brokered the nuclear deal, has agreed with Tehran.
On Tuesday, Iran’s Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani announced that Tehran has officially complained to the UN Security Council over the latest US sanctions.
Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters, said Iran should continue to stand powerful in the face of its enemies.
“International engagement should not lead to ignoring hostility of the enemies,” Khamenei said at the ceremony, broadcast live on state TV. He added that “despite all the sanctions and enmities, the Islamic Republic is stronger” than before.
Rouhani, who will be formally sworn into office on Saturday in parliament, said the nuclear deal has been a sign of “good faith” by Iran and that t brought the nation respite from most difficult UN sanctions.
“Transition from the most difficult sanctions was achieved through a combination of the power of diplomacy and deterrent defensive power,” said Rouhani. He said that in his second term in office, Iran will “insist on constructive engagement with the world more than before.”
Earlier Thursday, the state TV website quoted deputy foreign minister and senior nuclear negotiator Abbas Araghchi as saying that Iran will come up with a “smart” reaction to the last US sanctions.
Araghchi reiterated Iran’s stance that the US legislation signed by Trump amounts to a “hostile” breach of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal. Tehran has prepared measures that Iran would take against the US action, he added without elaborating, except to say some of the measures will “improve” Iran’s armed forces.
The US legislation imposes mandatory penalties on people involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program and anyone who does business with them. It would also apply terrorism sanctions to Iran’s prestigious Revolutionary Guard and enforce an arms embargo.
Elsewhere, all the parties to the Iran nuclear deal are abiding by its terms, the European Union said Thursday, despite Tehran’s charges that new US sanctions breach the agreement.
Tehran says the new measures violate its 2015 deal with world powers that eased sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme, an agreement which US President Donald Trump has repeatedly threatened to tear up.
“So far we consider that all parties have been implementing their commitments under the deal,” Catherine Ray, a spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, told a press briefing in Brussels.
“We expect their continued adherence,” Ray said when asked to comment on the Iranian charges.
Ray based her expectation on a July 21 meeting in Vienna of the Mogherini-chaired commission that brings together Iran and the other parties to discuss the deal’s implementation.
Mogherini’s office issued a statement at the time saying the meeting’s participants confirmed their continued adherence and “stressed the need to ensure its full and effective implementation in a constructive atmosphere.”
Ray said the joint commission allowed for the Iranian view on new US sanctions to be widely discussed.
The United States enacted Wednesday new sanctions targeting Iran’s ballistic missile programme, alleged human rights abuses and its support for the Lebanese Hezbollah, which Washington calls a terrorist group.
Following the nuclear deal, Washington and the EU lifted sanctions related to Iran’s atomic programme that the West alleged was for military purposes but Tehran said was peaceful.
Mogherini is due in Tehran on Saturday for the inauguration of Hassan Rouhani, who was re-elected to a second term as president in May.
EU countries Britain, France and Germany — which signed the deal along with Russia, China and the United States — remain firm backers of the agreement and have criticised the Trump administration for threatening to scrap it.