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Tuesday 17 September 2019

Iranian president warns of problems as Trump nuclear deal decision looms

President Hassan Rouhani made Iran’s first official comments since the US leader’s tweet.

Iranian women walk past a portrait of the late revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini and paintings of Persian poetry in Tehran (AP)
Iranian women walk past a portrait of the late revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini and paintings of Persian poetry in Tehran (AP)

By Amir Vahdat and Nasser Karimi, Associated Press

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani has warned that the country could face “some problems” ahead of President Donald Trump’s decision on whether to pull out of its nuclear deal with world powers.

Without directly naming Mr Trump, Mr Rouhani’s remarks at a petroleum conference in Tehran represented the first official Iranian comment on the US president’s overnight tweet that he would make an announcement on the deal on Tuesday.

“It is possible that we will face some problems for two or three months, but we will pass through this,” Mr Rouhani said.

He also stressed Iran wants to keep “working with the world and constructive engagement with the world”.

That appeared to be a nod to Europe, which has struck a series of business deals with Iran since the landmark 2015 nuclear deal.

Mr Trump’s tweet came late on Monday night, meaning major newspapers across Iran missed the announcement for their front pages.

Iran’s state-run television broadcaster carried the announcement at 10am local time, and Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency also carried a report on it.

Protesters rally in support of Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers in front of the White House (AP)

Overnight, Iran’s semi-official news agencies carried the news of Mr Trump’s tweet, while others shared foreign media reports online.

Mr Trump’s announcement, set for the 2pm local time at the White House (7pm BST), will come after nightfall in Iran.

Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal imposed restrictions on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear programme in return for the lifting of most of the US and international sanctions against Tehran.

However, the deal came with time limits and did not address Iran’s ballistic missile initiative or its regional policies. Mr Trump has repeatedly pointed to that, while referring to the accord as the “worst deal ever”. However, proponents of the deal have said those time limits were to encourage more discussion with Iran in the future that could grow into addressing those other concerns.

Mr Rouhani, shown smiling and addressing an audience at a table at the conference on Tuesday, sought to show calm to Iranians.

Meanwhile, Iran’s parliament speaker Ali Larijani reportedly said Mr Trump pulling out of the deal would increase unity among Iranians.

Mr Trump's move could determine the fate of 2015 agreement that froze Iran’s nuclear programme (AP)

Iran’s Central Bank chief Valiollah Seif also tried to calm nerves, telling state television that the US decisions “does not create a problem” for Iran’s economy.

However, many in Tehran and elsewhere in the country are worried about what Mr Trump’s decision could mean for the country.

Already, the Iranian rial is trading on the black market at 66,000 to the dollar, despite the government-set rate being at 42,000 to one dollar. Many say they have not seen the benefits of the nuclear deal.

Iran’s poor economy and unemployment levels already sparked nationwide protests in December and January that saw at least 25 people killed and, reportedly, nearly 5,000 arrested.

PA Media

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