0742 GMT February 17, 2020
“It may be possible to live on without interaction and relation with the world, but how can one achieve growth and development? Growth and development will not be achieved without interaction with the world, and if there is no export and banks are locked down and we are unable to reach out, we cannot attain growth and development,” President Rouhani said Wednesday in Tehran during a speech marking the beginning of the new academic year.
He made reference to unilateral US sanctions against the Islamic Republic and noted that despite such embargoes that target the Iranian economy, the nation has made strides to join a major Eurasian economic bloc and been able to maintain commercial exchange and exports to other countries under “tough conditions and an economic war.”
The president was referring to Iran’s agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), which took place on April 24, 2018, following months of negotiations with Russia, and would allow Tehran access to the free trade union of Kazakhstan, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and Belarus.
The EEU’s annual gross domestic product (GDP) reportedly surpasses $4 trillion.
In the initial phase, the Islamic Republic will sell some 350 items to the bloc, while 180 items will become available to the Iranian market.
Iran’s chief executive also pointed to other alternative political viewpoints, which call for “continuous confrontation” in the face of Washington’s aggressive sanctions regime and pointed out that Iran’s foreign policy record over the past 41 years indicates the viability of diplomatic approach rather than confrontationalism.
“Some people tell us: ‘You have wasted your time in negotiating with the International Atomic Energy Agency as it is under US and superpowers’ control and any discussion with them would thus be futile,’” said Rouhani, adding that his administration was able to close the so-called possible military dimensions (PMD) of Iran's nuclear program in talks with world powers at the IAEA.
He also defended his cabinet’s track record on dealings with the permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany – known as the P5+1- and getting them to declare several anti-Iran resolutions null and void, and noted that such feats were made possible through discourse and not clash.
On May 8, 2018, US President Donald Trump announced his decision to withdraw his country from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which is officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Under the JCPOA, Iran undertook to put limits on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions.
Trump’s backpedaling from the deal and his ensuing sanctions to cripple Iran’s economy sparked opposition in Iran to engage in any new discussions with Washington.
Iran in return has rolled back some of its commitments under the JCPOA and vowed to press ahead with its nuclear program under international rights.