by Compiled from Wire Services
Dec 06, 2016 12:00 am
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani demanded on Sunday that Barack Obama block an extension of sanctions passed by the U.S. Congress, saying Tehran would otherwise "firmly respond".
In a speech to parliament, Rouhani denounced legislation passed by the U.S. Congress to extend the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) for 10 years as a violation of Tehran's nuclear deal with six major powers. The deal curbs Tehran's nuclear program in return for the lifting of international financial sanctions. "America's president is obliged to exercise his authority by preventing its approval and particularly its implementation ... and if this gross violation is carried out we will firmly respond," Rouhani said in the speech, carried live by state television. President Obama is expected to sign the legislation into law, the White House said on last Friday.
The diplomatic thaw between Washington and Tehran over the past two years looks in jeopardy with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump taking office next month. He said during his election campaign that he would scrap the nuclear agreement.
Last month, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned that the extension would be viewed in Tehran as a breach of the nuclear accord and threatened retaliation.
The US Congress last week voted to renew longstanding sanctions linked to Iran's ballistic missile tests and human rights record. These pre-date the controversy around Iran's nuclear ambitions.
Washington says these 10-year sanctions have nothing to do with the nuclear agreement, but Iran says the continuing restrictions breach its spirit, particularly since they have discouraged international banks from returning to the country.
"We will not allow any party to unilaterally undertake any actions that are in violation of the nuclear agreement," Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said.
The agreement, signed in Vienna in July 2015 and in force since January, was the signature diplomatic breakthrough of Barack Obama's second term. It calls on Tehran to curb its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief from the US and other nations. Trump has promised to tear up the nuclear deal once in office, calling the agreement under which it was implemented -- the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action -- the "worst deal ever negotiated."
Implementation of the Iran nuclear deal should not be "affected by any changes in the domestic situations" of countries involved, China's foreign minister warned Monday, as US president-elect Donald Trump threatens to abandon it. The agreement's implementation is the "joint responsibility and duty of all parties" and "should not be affected by any changes in the domestic situations of the countries concerned", Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi told a press conference after meeting his Iranian counterpart Zarif. "What is important is to honor commitments and place emphasis on good faith when it comes to differences or possible differences" over the deal, he said.