By NASSER KARIMI
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s foreign minister took to YouTube on Thursday to criticize President Donald Trump’s threat to withdraw from the nuclear deal, saying Iran will not “renegotiate or add onto” the atomic accord. Mohammad Javad Zarif’s video, which was also posted to Trump’s favorite social media platform, Twitter, appeared to be taking his message to the masses after earlier speaking to news outlets across the United States to defend the deal. It comes as Trump has signaled he will withdraw from the agreement by May 12 if it is not renegotiated and changed.
Those changes have included proposals to limit Iran’s ballistic missile program, which Tehran says it has as a defensive deterrent. The five-minute video shows Zarif behind his desk, delivering his message on the deal. He offers background first about the deal before laying into Trump and criticizing Europe for offering “the United States more concessions from our pocket.” “On 11 occasions since, the U.N. nuclear watchdog has confirmed that Iran has implemented all of its obligations,” Zarif, who studied in the U.S., says in American-accented English. “In contrast, the U.S. has consistently violated the agreement, especially by bullying others from doing business with Iran.”
Zarif adds: “Let me make it absolutely clear once and for all: We will neither outsource our security nor will we renegotiate or add onto a deal we have already implemented in good faith.” There was no immediate response from Washington. The 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers saw Tehran limit its enrichment of uranium and number of spinning centrifuges, as well as hand over its stockpile of uranium and reconfigure a heavy-water reactor so it couldn’t produce plutonium. In exchange, Iran regained access to the global banking system and could sell its oil again on the world market. Airplane manufacturers, carmakers and others have rushed into Iran after the accord.
However, some Western firms have grown increasingly reluctant to enter the market, in part over Trump’s constant criticism on the campaign trail and from the White House on the deal.
While directly criticizing the U.S. and Europe, Zarif did appear to leave some wiggle room for possible negotiations, however. “It is Iran, and not the West, that has serious grievances and much to demand,” Zarif says. That comes as Iran’s hard-line Revolutionary Guard continues to detain a number of dual nationals, Western citizens and others . Analysts and family members of dual nationals and others detained in Iran say hard-liners in the Islamic Republic’s security agencies use the prisoners as bargaining chips in negotiations with the West.
A U.N. panel in September described “an emerging pattern involving the arbitrary deprivation of liberty of dual nationals” in Iran, which Tehran denied. The video comes amid intense lobbying on Trump from all sides. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself earlier this week gave an English-language presentation on what he called a “half ton” of Iranian nuclear documents illicitly seized by Israeli intelligence. Netanyahu said the documents provided evidence that Iran attempted to develop a nuclear bomb in the 2000s. The United Nations’ atomic watchdog previously reported such efforts and said it has “no credible indications of activities in Iran relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device after 2009.”
Zarif himself dismissed Netanyahu’s presentation as “a rehash of old allegations” and called the prime minister “the boy who can’t stop crying wolf.” In the video, Zarif also appears to troll Trump as well by making a real-estate analogy to the former developer. “When you buy a house and move your family in it or demolish it to build a skyscraper, you cannot come back two years later and renegotiate the price,” he says.