Trump's action on nuclear accord damages US credibility: Iranian FM

Trump's action on nuclear accord damages US credibility: Iranian FM

NEW YORK: Iranian Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif has warned that President Donald Trump's efforts to weaken the 2015 nuclear agreement will broadly harm U.S. international credibility.

Zarif, who negotiated the deal on behalf of Iran, made the remarks in an interview on CBS "Face the Nation" news programme after President Trump announced Friday he will not certify Iran's compliance with the agreement to Congress, but won't back out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) reached with Iran and other nations.

Trump left open the possibility that he might back out of the deal in the future, if Congress and other nations in the JCPOA don't strengthen oversight provisions on Iran.

Zarif suggested that Washington might end up suffering more adverse consequences than Iran as a result of Trump's steps last week against the accord between Tehran and six world powers, including the United States.

"Nobody else will trust any U.S. administration to engage in any long-term negotiation because the length of any commitment, the duration of any commitment from now on with any U.S. administration would be the reminder of the term of that president," Zarif said. The interview was conducted Saturday in Tehran and aired Sunday.            Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, sought to dispel any notion that Trump's decision would lead to any immediate break with the accord.

U.S. law requires the president's certification every 90 days. Trump had twice declared Iran in compliance, but balked ahead of Sunday's deadline. "Right now, you're going to see us stay in the deal," Haley said in an interview Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press." Calling the president's move an important preventive measure, she said: "What we're saying now with Iran is: Don't let it become the next North Korea."

Trump has urged lawmakers to weigh the re-imposition of sanctions if Iran engages in activities like firing ballistic missiles. Via executive action, he also set in motion new sanctions against Iran's most elite elite military unit, the Revolutionary Guard, which has sweeping powers as a regional enforcer for the Tehran government.

Amid reports of tensions between Trump and his secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, Zarif was asked in the CBS interview whether Tillerson had tipped him that the president's announcement was coming, the foreign minister said no, but that the absence of advance notice did not surprise him. "There's not much courtesy left in the way the United States treats the rest of the world," he said.

"This is not a bilateral treaty between Iran and the U.S.," the Iranian foreign minister said. "So whatever domestic politicking he wants to do, that's his business. You know, the United States is a permanent member of the Security Council. And if it's not going to uphold a resolution, that not only it voted for but it sponsored, then the credibility of the institution that the United States considers to be very important would be at stake."

Asked Zarif if he was thinking of any country in particular, perhaps North Korea, as the U.S. looks to any remaining diplomatic options to address that nation's nuclear weapons program.

"Including North Korea," Zarif said. "But I believe the entire international community." Zarif said lack of trust extends beyond the Iran deal.

"This administration is withdrawing from everything," Zarif said. "Somebody called it withdrawal doctrine for this administration. It's withdrawing from NAFTA. It's withdrawing from Trans Pacific Partnership. It's withdrawing from UNESCO. It's withdrawing from everything. So people cannot trust anymore the word of the United States."

"You see, in order to bring United States on board on many of these international agreements, a lot of people make a lot of concessions," he said. "Now nobody is going to make any concessions to the United States because they know that the next U.S. president will come back and say, 'It wasn't enough, we're not satisfied.'"