Rouhani made the remarks in Tehran on Monday afternoon in a meeting with the visiting German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas who had already met with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, earlier in the day.
“We expect Europe to stand up to and resist America’s economic terrorism against the Iranian nation and fulfill its obligations in accordance with the JCPOA (the nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action),” Rouhani told Germany’s top diplomat, adding that following the US withdrawal from the deal, Iran could have done the same on the strength of Article 36 of the JCPOA, but rather decided to remain patient and give other signatories a chance.
Germany’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that addressing ways to save the JCPOA, following the unilateral withdrawal of the US from the deal in May last year, was the main goal of Maas’ visit to Iran.
Under the JCPOA, Iran undertook to put limits on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions imposed against Tehran.
US President Donald Trump pulled his country out of the JCPOA in May 2018 and re-imposed harsh sanctions against the Islamic Republic in defiance of global criticism.
On the first anniversary of the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal, Iran announced that it would suspend the implementation of some of its commitments under the deal, adding that it would stop exporting excess uranium and heavy water, setting a 60-day deadline for the five remaining parties to the deal to take practical measures towards ensuring its interests in the face of the American sanctions.
Elsewhere in his remarks, the Iranian president said the US is pressing ahead with its policy of economic terrorism through “cruel sanctions,” stressing that “we believe, in particular, that we must stand against those who block people’s access to medicine and food.”
“The war that the US has waged against Iran since a year ago, will not serve the interest of anybody and the Iranian nation has proved during this period that it will resist against pressure and bullying,” Rouhani said.
The Iranian president added that the US restrictions on the imports of food and medicine to Iran are aimed at exerting pressure on the Iranian people and are in line with Washington’s policy to foment insecurity in the region, saying, “Regional security will never be achieved through imposing pressure and sanctions on the Iranian nation.”
On his official Twitter page earlier this month, the Iranian foreign minister lashed out at the US “economic terrorism” against the “innocent” Iranian people, saying war and talks will never go together.
Zarif posted a video showing a “little boy whose heartbroken mother can’t get him prosthetic legs as he grows” and emphasized that innocent civilians are being targeted by sanctions and economic terrorism applied to Iran by the United States.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Rouhani pointed to Iran’s efforts to restore stability to the region and fight terrorism, particularly in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, saying that the Islamic Republic has always played an “influential and positive” role in promoting regional stability and security.
He added that the three European signatories to the JCPOA have promised to remain committed to their obligations under the nuclear accord and to adopt measures to make up for the US withdrawal.
“Over the past year, despite relatively appropriate political positions [adopted by the European countries], we have not witnessed any serious practical move taken by the Europeans, and now we should make a decision and act in a way that will benefit us, you and all countries and the region,” the Iranian president told the German diplomat.
He said the JCPOA could have formed a basis for the promotion of dialog and diplomacy in the world, but it has turned into a factor for pessimism toward the principle of negotiations due to the unilateral US measures and other parties’ failure to live up to their commitments.
Rouhani noted that Iranian officials have worked out all necessary plans to manage the country’s affairs under any conditions, but “we believe that there is still an opportunity to save this agreement and the European Union can play a positive role in this regard.”
He categorically dismissed claims that Iran seeks to manufacture nuclear weapons, citing 15 reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) verifying its compliance with the Safeguards Agreement and a fatwa (religious edict) by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Khamenei prohibiting production of nuclear weapons.
EU seeks to ease tensions in region: Maas
The German foreign minister, for his part, expressed concern about increasing tensions in the region, saying that the EU countries, including Germany, seek to ease tensions and will spare no effort in this regard.
Maas criticized Washington for leaving the JCPOA and said his country does not agree with many US policies against Iran. He noted that Germany is trying to keep the nuclear deal alive and fulfill its commitments in cooperation with other European parties.
“Anybody familiar with the history of Iran will know that the strategy of maximum pressure on the Iranian nation will never bear fruit and, for this reason, the European Union is making an all-out effort to maintain the JCPOA,” the German foreign minister said.
Last month, a senior German diplomat said European countries will continue efforts to preserve the landmark multilateral nuclear accord between Iran and six world powers.
Jens Ploetner, the political director at the German Foreign Ministry met with Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi in Tehran during which he said his country will “remain committed” to the agreement.