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Ali Larijani: Iran ‘Entering A New Phase’

Ali Larijani - Speaker of the parliament - Iran

Referring to Washington’s withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers, and the subsequent U.S. sanctions against Iran, the speaker of the Iranian Parliament said on July 22 that Iran has “entered a new phase.”

“It seems we have entered a new phase in which the other side [the United States] thinks it can impose its illogical and hegemonic demands on the Iranian nation through exerting economic pressure,” Larijani said in an open session of the parliament.

He also boasted of Iran’s “advances in the military industry,” boosting “missile technology” under tough sanctions during the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88), and predicted that the same strategy in the era of the new U.S. sanctions would “shield” Iran’s economy.

Infographic-Iran's missiles
Infographic-Iran's missiles

“A period of focusing on the settlement of internal economic issues will result in a resistant economy that remains unharmed under the U.S. threat of economic sanctions,” Larijani added.

The speaker’s comments came against a backdrop of the U.S. withdrawal from JCPOA and its decision to impose myriad new sanctions on Iran to drive the country’s oil exports down to zero.

Maintaining that the EU has repeatedly demanded Iran not use its “legal right to retaliate” and urged Tehran to stay in the nuclear deal, Larijani said, “After the U.S. withdrawal, the EU requested Iran not use its legal right to retaliate and stay in the nuclear agreement instead. In turn, they promised to provide some mechanisms that would ensure Iran’s continued benefits from the nuclear pact.” He added that the Iranian authorities did not turn down the request so that the nation could avoid economic issues as much as possible.

Echoing Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s earlier comments, Larijani also noted that Tehran-EU talks have not yet been finalized and are in progress.

During an interview with Euronews' Global Conversation on July 20, Zarif said, “Working with Europeans is underway as we speak so that we test the possibility. We have given Europe some time.”

According to Zarif, “There are two very specific timeframes. One is the timeframe of the first batch of U.S. sanctions that will be in place in August, and the other timeframe is the second batch of U.S. sanctions, which will be in place in November. And we’ll see how Europe is dealing with this and we will respond, accordingly, and we have a very specific plan.”

Larijani, for his part, admitted that following U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to drop JCPOA and reimpose sanctions against Tehran, Iran has entered a “new phase.”

“But we have to make them [Americans] realize that the Iranian people, while patient and keen on having interactions, will never sell out their dignity and toss aside the future of the country’s technological progress over the United States’ hegemonic temperament.”

The United States has repeatedly insisted its main aim in imposing sanctions on Tehran is to change the regime’s behavior.

Nevertheless, Larijani says Washington has targeted Iran’s missile program. “The enemies’ [U.S.] antagonism today is no longer in the form of a threat of war against the Iranian nation; rather it is pushing for a reduction of the range of our missiles.”

While Larijani insists that the Tehran-Washington standoff is limited to the row over “the range of Iran’s missiles,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani went further on July 22 and warned Trump against pursuing hostile policies against Tehran, saying, "America should know peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars.”

"Mr. Trump, don't play with the lion's tail; this would only lead to regret," the official government news agency IRNA quoted Rouhani as saying at a July 22 gathering of Iranian diplomats.

Earlier, Trump had told U.S. lawmakers in the White House that he spoke about Iran with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their summit in Helsinki on July 16.

Mentioning that they had discussed Syria, Trump added, “We also spoke of Iran and the need to halt their nuclear ambitions and the destabilizing activities taking place in Iran.”

Trump took the occasion of his meeting with the members of Congress to once again reiterate that his tough policy had had an impact on Iran.

“As most of you know, we ended the Iran deal, which was one of the worst deals anyone could imagine. And that’s had a major impact on Iran. And it’s substantially weakened Iran. And we hope that, at some point, Iran will call us, and we’ll maybe make a new deal, or we maybe won’t.”

Trump also told lawmakers that Iran is feeling pressure from the looming U.S. sanctions, an argument the White House has been using more frequently in recent days.

“They’re no longer looking so much to the Mediterranean and the entire Middle East. They’ve got some big problems that they can solve, probably much easier if they deal with us. So, we’ll see what happens,” Trump said.