Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that it is possible to return without the participation of the United States.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani held his annual grand press conference on Monday. The head of the Iranian government answered questions from various media representatives for more than three hours.
Like last year, the press conference was held in mid-December, but due to the coronavirus, the number of participants was significantly reduced this year. The event was mainly attended by representatives of Iranian channels and agencies, who asked about 20 questions. The broadcast was carried live by Iranian state television. The nuclear deal and the nuclear physicist
One of the main topics of discussion was the possibility of Iran returning to full compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Iran’s president reiterated his previously voiced position that “if [the U.S. President-elect] Joseph Biden returns to the situation before 2018 (Washington withdrew from the JCPOA in May 2018 – TASS note), then Tehran will return to full implementation [of] the nuclear deal.” “There is no problem in this direction,” he said.
The important addition was that Iran could return to the JCPOA without U.S. involvement. “As soon as [other parties to the agreement], no matter what format – 4+1 (Russia, China, Germany, Britain, and France without U.S. participation – TASS note) or 5+1 – start fully implementing their obligations, the Iranian government will immediately return to full implementation of the nuclear deal,” Rouhani noted.
At the same time, the president strongly rejected the possibility of adding additional clauses to the agreement, including Iran’s missile program. “We do not accept any preconditions from anyone. The parties agreed on a nuclear deal earlier. Either we implement this agreement or not,” he said. According to Rouhani, negotiations on Iran’s missile program are “absolutely impossible.”
In addition, the politician spoke sharply about the murder of Iranian nuclear physicist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, placing the blame on the Jewish state. “Israel’s main goal in killing Fakhrizadeh was to destabilize the region and war,” he said. According to Rouhani, “Those behind Fakhrizadeh’s murder were those who wanted to plunge the region into war in the last days of U.S. President Donald Trump [in charge of the U.S. administration].”
Execution of a journalist
One of the most high-profile events around Iran in recent days has been the execution of Ruhollah Zam, head of the news portal Amad News, convicted of collaborating with foreign intelligence. Foreign ministries of several countries, including Germany, France, and Italy condemned this action. The French side, for example, called the execution “a serious attack on freedom of expression and press freedom in Iran. “In response, the Iranian Foreign Ministry summoned the French and German ambassadors and issued a statement criticizing that many foreign politicians and media called Zam a journalist. Iranian diplomats stressed that Amad News had published “schemes for making petrol bombs and instructions for street clashes with the police, as well as cooperating with foreign states and intelligence agencies to undermine the political system in Iran.”
Commenting on foreign reactions, the president noted that “Iran has an independent judicial system that passes sentences.” “It may not be good for Ruhollah Zam’s life story that he was executed. But in this country, according to the law, there are death sentences, and they are handed down,” he noted.
Rouhani added that “Europeans are always particularly sensitive to certain topics.” “We, too, are sensitive to a number of issues and we comment on them, express our opinions, for example with regard to events in France or Germany, and we are unhappy with some of the actions of European states.” “I highly doubt that this topic will do much damage to Iran-Europe relations,” he said.
The prime minister also commented on the friction between Tehran and Ankara against the background of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s speech at a military parade in Baku, where he recited lines from a poem that referred to the Arax River on the border between Azerbaijan and Iran. The speech was about how “the river was forcibly divided” between the countries. Erdogan’s words in this context were perceived by many in Iran as a proclamation of the ideas of Pan-Turkism, which threaten the territorial integrity of the Islamic Republic.
On Saturday, Mevlut Cavusoglu said in a telephone conversation with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that the Turkish side recognizes Iran’s territorial integrity and the president of the republic did not realize that the poem he read could be so sensitive to Tehran.
“I believe that with the explanations [the Turkish side] has provided, we can overcome this problem,” Rouhani said. “Given my experience [with] Erdogan, I very much doubt that he had the intention to insult us or threaten our territorial integrity,” he added. According to the Iranian president, “the whole world should know that every millimeter of Iranian land is important to the country and pay attention to this in their speeches.”
The administration’s plans
The current press conference may be the last event in this format for Rouhani, as Iran’s next presidential election is scheduled for June 18, 2021. The current head of government is not eligible to run as he has been in office for the second consecutive term. Therefore, Rouhani announced a number of projects to be completed before the end of his government.
“Before the end of the administration, we will connect the Caspian Sea to Resht,” he said. The Qazvin-Rasht-Enzeli railway is one of Iran’s most important infrastructure projects of recent years. This route, when completed, should become part of the North-South transport corridor, the participants of which are Russia, Azerbaijan, and Iran.
The president also added that “the [railroad] between [the cities of] Zahedan and Chabahar are planned to be completed. This project should ensure the transit of goods from the Persian Gulf to Afghanistan through Iranian territory.
In addition, Rouhani said that the current presidential administration plans to finalize an Iranian oil export route bypassing the Strait of Hormuz. “The strategic project [for the creation of the oil pipeline] Gure-Jask, by which oil exports will be moved from the Persian Gulf area to the Gulf of Oman, will be completed before the end of the current government,” the president said.
There were some critical remarks about the president. For example, one journalist raised the issue of rising prices of basic goods, and what he said were the ineffective actions of a number of representatives of the Rouhani government. “Is it possible that in the current situation the government has no shortcomings? Of course, we have problems, but we must all work together to solve them,” the president replied.
According to Rouhani, “In addition to the structural shortcomings and the economic war [against the republic], there is another problem, which is that the government’s opponents [inside the country] are joining forces with Iran’s international rivals.” “Why do we only criticize a government that is right in the middle of a battlefield? – he said. – Is it possible to find a single institution that doesn’t have problems? There are problems everywhere, and we have to help each other solve them.”