Dr. Kamal Kharrazi, the President of Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, in the News Makers interview with Becky Anderson at the Doha Forum 2022, pointed out that it was the United States that withdrew from the JCPOA and caused Iran to reduce the level of implementation of its obligations under this agreement.
He stressed: “I have to say that even during the Obama administration new sanctions were imposed on Iran, and of course, any sanction imposed had its impact on the Iranian economy. More, even under Obama, there was no serious move on economic cooperation between Iran and the West.
He said that Iran also had problems in banking relations during Obama’s presidency while JCPOA was supposed to solve those problems. “Even after Obama, when Trump left the agreement Europeans did nothing to move the problems. They promised to enforce specific rules according to European law to protect companies that face secondary sanctions but did nothing. They established INSTEX, but it didn’t work either.
The President of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations emphasized: “So we have left behind a long history on this issue. Now, the United States has withdrawn from the agreement, and Iran has reduced fulfillment of its obligations in compliance with the JCPOA.
Dr. Kharazi in response to a question about whether he believed that Washington would remove the IRGC from the list of terrorist organizations and what would be Iran’s response, said: the IRGC should be removed from that list and this is not the only problem. More than 500 Iranian institutions and individuals are under US sanctions, some of which have a direct impact on Iran-West economic relations.
He added: The IRGC is a national army and the national army cannot be designated as a terrorist organization. It is very important for the Iranians that the IRGC be removed from the list; But this is not the only issue, there are other issues as well, such as guarantees that the United States would not withdraw again from the deal.
The SCFR President stressed that the removal of the IRGC from the US list is an important issue for Iranians: “Certainly, the Islamic Republic of Iran is ready for an agreement that would be fair and would serve the interests of the nation.”
In response to a question about the impact of the Russian war with Ukraine on the negotiations about the revival of the JCPOA, Dr. Kharazi stated: Iran has taken an active neutral position on this issue. We are in contact with both sides but do not support the aggression against another country, because we have experienced ourselves being aggressed. The issue between Russia and Ukraine must be resolved through negotiations. So, we have to see what happens in the future. Regardless of Russia’s victory or defeat, there would be strategic changes ahead, as the West-East divide widens and it would have its own impacts on the Middle East, so we must be prepared.
Criticizing the one-sided narrative of the Western media, especially the Americans, about the Russian war in Ukraine, he pointed out that Russia was provoked by the issue of NATO expansion toward Russian borders. Remember that it is not just the Russians who have attacked another country; other powers, including the United States, have attacked other countries many times. Unfortunately, the issue of human rights is politically abused. The American media has focused on the fact that human rights are being violated in Ukraine, and I do not deny that, but in Yemen and Afghanistan, and elsewhere, human rights are being violated without attracting so much attention.
The President of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, in another part of his address, said: “We have emphasized the issue of verification” We need to have enough time to verify the lifting of sanctions and make sure that having normal economic relations with others would be practical from that day on.
In response to a question that if the IRGC was not removed from the US list, wouldn’t Tehran be blamed as the party who blocked the agreement, Dr. Kharazi emphasized: I do not agree with you. You know that it was the IRGC that saved the country against ISIS. In fact, ISIS of Syria and Iraq intended to invade Iran after the collapse of Baghdad and Damascus, but IRGC saved Iran. The IRGC is a symbol of Iran’s security. Everyone in Iran respects IRGC and insists that it be removed from the US list. The IRGC has important economic institutions, and not being removed from the US list, would have an impact on Iran’s relations with the outside world. Therefore, the removal of the IRGC from the American list is important not only from the perspective of Iran’s national pride but also from an economic point of view.
In response to a question about the fact that the countries of the region do not want IRGC to be removed from the US list, he emphasized: What do you mean by the region? This perception is not correct, and if you refer to the people of Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, and many other countries, IRGC is considered a very valuable force. IRGC opponents in the region oppose IRGC because they are dependent on powers such as the United States; But people in the region, such as Iraq, Syria, and other independent countries, understand the value of the IRGC and its role in fighting terrorist groups. They are the force that fought ISIS.
The President of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations also welcomed the normalization of relations between Syria and Arab countries and stressed: “We welcome the revival of Syria’s relations with Arab states because the time has come to rebuild Syria and this by itself shows the correctness of our policy in supporting of the Syrian government against terrorist groups. In fact, some Arab and non-Arab countries supported terrorist groups; But we helped the country not to collapse.
Dr. Kharazi in response to a question that if the JCPOA is not revived, is Iran ready to withstand more pressure, said: What pressure is worse than what we have witnessed so far? The United States put maximum pressure but admitted its disgraceful defeat. What other pressures can they impose? We are ready to resist and maintain our economy. If you come to Iran, you will observe a situation that might seem strange to you; because despite all the pressures, everything is available in the Iranian markets, and many goods are produced by Iranians themselves. The reason for Iran’s success in countering the sanctions has been resistance and the preservation of its national pride.
He meanwhile stressed: “With all this, we are ready to make a deal and establish normal relations with others, and there is no doubt about this; But we will not allow our independence to be violated and we will not give up. It is important to reach an agreement, but not at any cost!