Cabinet minister says ‘good chance’ Iran will renegotiate nuclear deal

Source: Cabinet minister says ‘good chance’ Iran will renegotiate nuclear deal | The Times of Israel

Gilad Erdan slams ‘morally bankrupt’ EU for trying to salvage accord; Israeli intelligence community said optimistic that new sanctions will force major change in Tehran

Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad  Erdan attends a committee meeting in the Knesset, on July 2, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan attends a committee meeting in the Knesset, on July 2, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan on Tuesday praised the US for reimposing tough sanctions on Iran that brought back into effect the harsh penalties lifted under the Iran nuclear deal.

“It would be better if the Iranian regime would disappear entirely from this world, but it would also be a blessing to see Obama’s bad nuclear agreement replaced with a better one,” he told Israel Radio. US President Donald Trump abandoned the deal in May.

“In my opinion, there is a good chance of that,” said Erdan, who also heads the Strategic Affairs Ministry. “We can already see positive results from what Trump did.”

Erdan criticized the European Union for trying to salvage the deal by ensuring that economic benefits guaranteed under the 2015 accord continue to flow to the country.

“The EU is morally bankrupt, and we need to remember that next time they try to lecture us,” Erdan said. The EU, along with China, Russia, France, Germany and the UK, was also a signatory to the deal and has not withdrawn.

In Israel, the reimposition of US sanctions was lauded as a historic turning point that could ultimately lead to the Islamic Republic’s downfall.

On Tuesday, Israel Radio quoted an unnamed senior official who said the Israeli intelligence community was optimistic the sanctions would lead to major changes in Iran and force Tehran to renegotiate the deal.

US President Donald J. Trump signs an Executive Order on Iran Sanctions in the Green Room at Trump National Golf Club, August 6, 2018, in Bedminster Township, New Jersey. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

“We would like to see a change in policy, but there is no way of knowing how long that will take,” the official said.

“The only hammer available right now is economic, and using that, there is a good change Iran will fall to its knees,” he said. “Right now Iran is weak and hysterical.”

The new sanctions on Iran took effect just after midnight in Washington on Tuesday as part of Trump’s withdrawal from the international accord designed to limit Iran’s nuclear program.

Trump signed an executive order restoring the penalties on Monday, which he said would put “maximum economic pressure” on the country. The sanctions affect financial transactions that involve US dollars, Iran’s automotive sector, the purchase of commercial planes and metals including gold.

A second batch of US sanctions targeting Iran’s oil sector and central bank are to be reimposed in early November.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Trump for ratcheting up pressure on the Islamic Republic, and called on European nations to follow his lead.

“It symbolizes the determination to curb Iran’s regional aggression and its ongoing plans to arm itself with nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said in a video released Monday.

A group of protesters chant slogans at the old grand bazaar in Tehran, Iran, Monday, June 25, 2018. Protesters in the Iranian capital swarmed its historic Grand Bazaar on Monday, news agencies reported, and forced shopkeepers to close their stalls in apparent anger over the Islamic Republic’s troubled economy, months after similar demonstrations rocked the country. (Iranian Labor News Agency via AP)

On Monday, the European Union’s diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said the bloc, as well as Britain, France and Germany, deeply regretted Washington’s move.

“We are determined to protect European economic operators engaged in legitimate business with Iran,” she said in a statement.

Many large European firms are leaving Iran for fear of US penalties, and Trump warned of “severe consequences” against firms and individuals that continued to do business with Iran.

The impact of the return of sanctions has ramped up tensions inside Iran, which has seen days of protests and strikes in multiple towns and cities over water shortages, high prices and wider anger at the political system.

Severe reporting restrictions have made it impossible to verify the swirl of claims coming through social media.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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