Iranian President Hassan Rohani said on Wednesday that neither the White House nor Israel will determine the future of the Middle East, dismissing U.S. President Donald Trump as a “tradesman” who lacked the qualifications to deal with a complex international pact.
These comments come as the U.S. and European powers discuss the survival of Tehran's nuclear agreement. Rohani spoke after French President Emmanuel Macron flew to Washington to try to persuade Trump not to scrap the 2015 agreement - under which Iran curbed its nuclear program in return for the lifting of sanctions.
“They (the U.S.) say that with the certain leader of a European country we want to make a decision about a seven-sided agreement,” Rohani said in a speech broadcast live on state TV.
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He reserved particular scorn for Trump, who has called the agreement one of the worst deals ever negotiated and has threatened to restore U.S. sanctions next month unless what he sees as severe flaws are fixed.
“You don’t have any background in politics. You don’t have any background in law. You don’t have any background on international treaties,” Rohani said. “How can a tradesman, a merchant, a building constructor, a tower constructor make judgments about international affairs,” he added referring to Trump’s career as a property developer.
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The other powers that signed the agreement with Iran - Russia, China, Germany, Britain and France - have all said they want to preserve it. Many in the West see it as the best hope of preventing Iran from getting a nuclear bomb and heading off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.
Commenting on Trump's stance on the deal, Russia questioned on Wednesday whether it would be possible to repeat earlier work to clinch a new Iran nuclear deal.
"We know that the nuclear deal was the meticulous work of a number of countries. Is it possible to repeat that work -- that is a question," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call.
Peskov said the Kremlin supports keeping the current Iran nuclear deal in place. "We do not know what is being talked about, we support the nuclear deal as it is today. We think that there are no alternatives," he said.
In a bid to salvage the deal while satisfying Trump’s call for tougher action, Macron’s has proposed that the United States and Europe block any Iranian nuclear activity until 2025 and beyond, address Iran’s ballistic missile program and generate conditions for a political solution to contain Iran in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel will hold talks with Trump in Washington later in the week.
Senior Iranian officials have said repeatedly that Iran’s ballistic missile program is not up for negotiation.