Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said on Thursday that Tehran would not sign any nuclear deal unless all economic sanctions on Iran are lifted on “the first day of the implementation of the agreement.” His comments, made during a ceremony marking Iran's Nuclear Technology Day, come just days after Iran and the West formulated a preliminary agreement on Iran’s nuclear program.
“Our triumph is that the biggest military and economic power in the world, i.e the U.S. and the country’s president, acknowledged the fact that the Iranian nation will never yield to pressure, sanctions and bullying,” Rouhani said, according to a report by Iran’s state-run PressTV.
The U.S. and its European allies -- the P5+1 group that includes the U.K., France, China, Russia and Germany -- fear that Iran wants to develop nuclear weapons. In order to prevent this, these nations have imposed a series of international sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy. Iran, however, has consistently denied that it is attempting to develop nuclear weapons and has claimed that its nuclear program is meant solely for peaceful purposes.
The demand to lift all economic sanctions on Iran immediately, instead of a gradual phasing out, is likely to be a sticking point in the ongoing efforts to finalize a deal by June 30. Earlier this week, the U.S. government had also ruled out an immediate removal of sanctions.
“It has never been our position that all of the sanctions against Iran should be removed from day one,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said at a news briefing on Monday. “The president has forcefully advocated in a way that’s consistent with the thinking of the international community that what we should see is a phased reduction in sanctions to ensure that Iran continues to comply with the agreement and continues to have an incentive to comply with the agreement.”
Meanwhile, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also commented on the draft agreement on Thursday and said that as of now, nothing has been finalized in the nuclear talks, adding that until a joint, binding agreement is reached, there is “nothing to approve or disapprove of.”