Iran urges Muslims to unite against US
Iran’s supreme leader called on Muslim nations to unite against the United States, saying Tehran would never yield to “bullying,” state television reported yesterday.
“The Iranian nation has successfully resisted bullying attempts by America and other arrogant powers and we will continue to resist... All Muslim nations should stand united against America and other enemies,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said. Iran’s top authority criticized Trump for saying on April 24 some countries in the Middle East “wouldn’t last a week” without U.S. protection.
“Such remarks are humiliation for Muslims ... Unfortunately there is war in our region between Muslim countries. The backward governments of some Muslim countries are fighting with other countries,” Khamenei said.
Iran and Saudi Arabia have long been locked in a proxy war, competing for regional supremacy from Iraq to Syria and Lebanon to Yemen.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, meanwhile, rejected any hopes of rewriting a nuclear deal with world powers, while his French counterpart vowed to U.S. lawmakers that everything would be done to stop Iran ever acquiring atomic weapons.
In their different ways, Europe, Iran and Russia are all seeking to convince U.S. President Trump not to abandon the landmark 2015 deal that curbed Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
Trump has called the existing accord “insane” and “ridiculous,” in part because its restrictions start to expire in 2025.
But addressing the U.S. Congress at the end of his pomp-filled, three-day visit to Washington, French President Emmanuel Macron said: “Iran shall never possess any nuclear weapons. Not now. Not in five years. Not in 10 years. Never.”
He has proposed an additional deal that extends Iran’s nuclear restrictions while also curbing its ballistic missile program and support for militias in the Middle East.
No changes to deal
In Iran, Rouhani took a more aggressive tack, reiterating that the Islamic republic would not accept any changes to the deal.
“We have an agreement called the JCPOA,” said Rouhani in a fiery speech, using its technical name.
“It will either last or not. If the JCPOA stays, it stays in full.”
From Europe, a host of voices have urged Trump to build on the deal, rather than tear it up.
“There is one deal existing, it’s working, it needs to be preserved,” said EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini.
Moscow also reiterated its support, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov telling reporters: “We believe that no alternative exists so far” to the nuclear deal, and demanding that Iran be involved in any further discussions.
The next to press the point will be German Chancellor Angela Merkel when she visits Washington on April 27.
“The biggest priority is maintaining the existing nuclear accord. It was negotiated by seven countries and the EU and can’t be renegotiated by one or other party,” said German foreign spokesman Rainer Breul.
“President Macron... spoke of the need for supplementary agreements. The question is whether, and in what circumstances, Iran would be ready to enter into such a process,” he added. Rouhani’s speech was particularly fiery, ridiculing Trump as “a trader, a businessman, a high-rise builder, how can he judge about global issues?
“You have no expertise in politics, nor in law, nor in international accords,” he said.