Amid uncertainty about the future of the Iran nuclear deal, the deputy chief-commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has said Tehran should be clear that it will resume an “unlimited” nuclear program if the U.S. pulls out of the deal.
Addressing a session attended by a group of judicial authorities, IRGC Brigadier General Hossein Salami said April 26 that “government officials should be more authoritative” in their comments on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and “wipe out the conception that regardless of Washington’s decision on JCPOA, Iran will remain loyal to it,” according to a report in the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which Iran signed with the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany, curbed Iran's nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief.
Salami said he speaks for Iran’s military elites in calling on Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to be tougher on the U.S., adding his own prediction that Washington will preserve sanctions and try to agitate the people of Iran into a confrontation with the IRGC and the Supreme Leader.
If Iran threatens to restart its nuclear program, however, the Americans and Europeans will be “deranged” and will have to submit to Iran’s authority, Salami said.
Although IRGC is Iran’s main military force but it frequently intervenes in political and even cultural matters. It claims that since it is designated as “Islamic Revolution Guards”, it has a duty to protect the revolution from all sorts of threats.
General Salami is not the first Iranian official to make threats in response to talk of the U.S. possibly scrapping the nuclear deal.
Speaking April 24 about the consequences of U.S. President Donald Trump pulling out of the deal, IRGC Rear Admiral and Secretary of the Islamic Republic’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani said “If that happens, Tehran will add ‘startling actions’ to its agenda.”
The same day, in a speech broadcast live on national state-run TV, Rouhani cautioned Trump to remain in the nuclear deal or face “severe consequences.”
“I am telling those in the White House that if they do not live up to their commitments… the Iranian government will react firmly,” Rouhani said, adding that his government is prepared for “various scenarios.”
A day later, in an interview with the AP, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that if Washington leaves the JCPOA, Tehran might also leave Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Joining the chorus, former chief commander of the IRGC and current Secretary of Iran’s Expediency Council Major General Mohsen Rezaei said at a press conference April 26 “If the U.S. leaves the JCPOA, we will pull out from the NPT because we have paid too high a cost for the JCPOA and we are not going to pay for nothing.”
However, President Trump has repeatedly insisted that the JCPOA is “a bad deal,” and that it should have addressed broader concerns about Iran's activities in the Middle East.
"They should have made a deal that covered Yemen, that covered Syria, that covered other parts of the Middle East," Trump said April 24 after a meeting at the White House with French President Emmanuel Macron. "No matter where you go in the Middle East, you see the fingerprints of Iran behind problems.”
Macron and Trump are now calling for a “new” deal, but Tehran has repeatedly rejected any renegotiations on its nuclear deal with world powers.