In an interview with Spanish ABC newspaper, Abbas Araqchi in response to a question on the impacts of the US exit from the 2015 Iran nuclear and reimposition of sanctions on Iran, said even before the new rounds of sanctions took effect, and since Donald Trump took office, some foreign companies had begun to stop activities in Iran due to uncertainty and a psychological climate.
“Those companies not linked with the United States are continuing their cooperation with Iran. Around 3,000 small, medium-size and large companies are working with Iran. What they want is a financial channel for doing business,” said Araqchi, who is in Madrid for the second round of negotiations with his Spanish counterpart.
The Iranian official said there is a possibility of reduction in Iran’s oil sales but not to the extent that the US wishes.
Sanctions not to change policies
“Perhaps the country has to pay heavy prices for sanctions, but they cannot change Iran’s policies. The previous US administration had imposed much harder sanctions against Iran, but eventually it had to sit for negotiations. Trump is still following an already failed experience. The United States is an economic power and like a bully is putting pressure on other countries. But it is a country which has been isolated politically,” he said.
Asked whether as in previous rounds of sanctions, when Iran increased the number of its centrifuges from 200 to 20,000, it will do the same this time, Araqchi responded that Iran curbed its nuclear activities to show its credibility.
“If there is no agreement there will be no limitations. Iran’s nuclear program will remain of a peaceful nature forever. We used to have first generation centrifuges and now we are working on the third and fourth generations, but we do not want to reach a point of tension,” he said.
On US claims that Iran supports terrorism and is misusing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to develop nuclear arms, the Iranian deputy foreign minister said, “Our nuclear program is under supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which has verified 13 times Iran’s commitment to its obligations under the deal. The Zionist regime is good at lying and we should not be deceived by false claims of warmongering individuals.”
To a question on Iran’s alleged presence in Yemen, Araqchi replied, “We have no presence in Yemen. We are in contact with Houthis, but this does not mean that they [the Houthis] are doing whatever we want them to do. We are trying to help in establishing peace in that country. This war is the result of Saudis’ miscalculations. They used to talk about eliminating the Houthis within two months, but with the passage of four years the war is still raging in that country. This is why they intend to attribute this to Iran. The solution is not the war but rather in politics.”
Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating military campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the aim of bringing the government of former president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi back to power and crushing the country’s Houthi Ansarullah movement.
Some 16,000 Yemenis have been killed and thousands more injured since the onset of the US-backed Saudi-led aggression.
More than 2,200 others have died of cholera, and the crisis has triggered what the United Nations has described as the world’s worst humanitarian disaster.
Asked if Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had some evidence to support his statement that slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered with the support of the United States, Araqchi said, “President Rouhani meant that Washington’s all-out support for the Saudi Arabian government has emboldened it to do whatever it wished, including Khashoggi’s murder. Even the US is supplying arms to Saudi Arabia for its war on Yemen.”