ANKARA: A member of Iran’s clerical elite said on Friday Europeans could not be trusted after President Hassan Rouhani said Tehran would remain in a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers even after the United States pulled out.
US President Donald Trump declared on Tuesday that Washington was leaving the deal under which Iran curbed its nuclear programme, saying it was one-sided and he would reimpose sanctions on Iran that were lifted as part of the accord.
"America cannot do a damn thing. They have always been after the toppling of Iran’s regime and this exit is in line with that aim," Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami said in a televised address to worshippers at Tehran University.
State TV aired footage of demonstrators shouting slogans against the United States and Israel at rallies in Tehran and other cities and towns nationwide after Friday prayers. They chanted, "Mr Trump you cannot do a damn thing," and, "We fight. We die.
We don’t surrender," in streets festooned with anti-US and anti-Israeli banners and posters. Both hardline conservatives and relative moderates in the Islamic Republic’s leadership condemned Trump’s hawkish approach to Iran with frustration growing among ordinary Iranians at the prospect of economic hardships as the result of new sanctions.
"These European signatories to the deal also cannot be trusted ... Iran’s enemies cannot be trusted," Khatami said, as hardline protesters urged the government not to "repeat the same mistake" by re-entering negotiations.
Rouhani and his ministers have sought to reassure Iranians that their oil-reliant economy can withstand a return to pressures sure to follow Trump’s rejection of the deal clinched under his predecessor Barack Obama after years of negotiations. Iran’s economy has continued to struggle despite the easing of sanctions from early 2016. In late December, Iranians staged nationwide demonstrations over poor living standards, calling on Rouhani as well as clerical leaders to step down.