Rouhani Says Fresh Nuclear Talks with U.S. Would be 'Waste of Time'
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday ruled out talks with U.S. President Donald Trump's administration on revisiting a 2015 nuclear accord and said Tehran had "various options" if Washington pulls out.
"An American government that chooses to trample on her legal and legitimate international commitments, a conversation with such a government would be a waste of time," Rouhani told reporters on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was set Wednesday to meet his U.S. counterpart Rex Tillerson for the first time as part of the accord, which also involves five other major powers.
But he said there was no question of reopening negotiations, a day after Trump called the accord an "embarrassment."
"It is an agreement that took over two years of negotiation over every single word and every single sentence," he said.
"We were able to agree on mutually acceptable dates and deadlines so this agreement is not something you can touch. If you take out a single brick, the entire building will collapse," he said.
Rouhani said that Iran had "various options" including "the removal of obstacles" if the United States pulls out of the agreement.
"It means that our hand would be completely open to take any action that we see as beneficial to our country," he said.
He declined to be more specific but said that Iran will never seek nuclear weapons.
"Iran has never sought, is not now seeking and will never seek nuclear weapons," he said.
The dispute centers on uranium enrichment, which Iran says is for civilian use but critics led by Israel say is intended to build nuclear weapons.
Rouhani said that Iran would also need to look at the stance of the other parties to the agreement -- Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia -- if the United States pulls out.
Earlier in the day, Rouhani defended the nuclear deal in a speech before the United Nations General Assembly, saying it was an internationally backed accord that should not be destroyed by "rogue newcomers to the world of politics."
Hitting back at Trump's threat to scrap the 2015 deal, Rouhani told the U.N. General Assembly that the deal had won global support and that its fate could not be decided by "one or two countries."
"It would be a great pity if this agreement were to be destroyed by rogue newcomers to the world of politics," Rouhani said, in a clear reference to Trump who blasted the deal in his UN address on Tuesday.
"The world will have lost a great opportunity," he declared.
The Iranian leader pledged to uphold the agreement and vowed to "respond decisively and resolutely" to violations of the deal that provides for sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on Tehran's nuclear program.
The deal was "overwhelmingly applauded by the international community and endorsed as part of Resolution 2231" adopted by the Security Council, Rouhani told the General Assembly.
"As such it belongs to the international community in its entirety and not only to one or two countries," he said.
Trump is due to report to the U.S. Congress by October 15 on whether he can certify that Iran is upholding its side of the accord, under which it accepted limits on its nuclear program.
On Wednesday, Trump told reporters that he had reached a decision, but did not elaborate.
"I have decided. I'll let you know what the decision is," he said.
If Congress decides to reimpose economic sanctions -- despite opposition from fellow deal signatories Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia -- the agreement would likely collapse.
Under the nuclear deal, Iran surrendered much of its enriched uranium, dismantled a reactor and submitted nuclear sites to U.N. inspection, while Washington and Europe lifted some sanctions.
"By violating its international commitments, the new U.S. administration only destroys its own credibility and undermines international confidence in negotiating with it or accepting its word or promise," Rouhani said.
The president slammed the "ignorant, absurd and hateful rhetoric filled with ridiculously baseless allegations that was uttered before this august body yesterday."
Trump in his speech Tuesday called the nuclear deal "an embarrassment" for the United States.