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Russian, Tehran Concerned Ahead Of Trump Decision On Iran Deal

Iranian President Hassan Rohani gives a speech in the city of Tabriz on April 25, 2018.

Russia and Iran have expressed serious concerns about a decision that U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to make on May 8 about the future of Iran’s nuclear deal with six world powers.

The Kremlin on May 8 warned that a “very serious situation” will emerge if Trump pulls the United States out of the accord.

Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rohani on May 8 acknowledged Iran could "face some problems" if Trump announced that he will reimpose sanctions on the country.

Speaking at a petroleum expo in Tehran, Rohani said "It is possible that we will face some problems for two or three months, but we will pass through this."

Rohani also said Iran wants to keep "working with the world and constructive engagement with the world."

Those remarks appeared to be a reference to European countries that have struck a series of business deals with Iran since the landmark 2015 nuclear deal.

Trump was due to announce his decision at 2 p.m. Washington time on May 8.

Ali Larijani, the speaker of Iran’s parliament, said ahead of Trump’s announcement that a U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal would lead to more unity among Iranians.

“Mr. Trump, rest assure that this loyalty on the nuclear issue will [encourage] the great Iranian nation to continue on the path of the Islamic Revolution firmly behind the leadership of its supreme leader,” the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

U.S. President Donald Trump
U.S. President Donald Trump

Even before Trump’s announcement, conservative Islamic figures in Iran on May 8 were praising Khamenei -- saying that he had rightly predicted the nuclear deal was fragile and would collapse.

Iranian Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri, a popular reformist politician, said only the “naive” would negotiate with the United States if Trump pulls out of the accord.

"Today, the biggest power in the world is yelling that it does not accept it,” Jahangiri said. “It's up to them what to do with the deal, but [from now on], only naive individuals would accept to enter talks with such a country."

Jahangiri also said the Iranian government was “ready” and has “a plan for managing the country under any circumstance."

Valiollah Seif, the head of Iran’s central bank, told Iranian State TV that a U.S. pullout from the nuclear deal would not have “a significant effect” on Iran’s economy.

Global oil prices surged to their highest levels since November 2014 as investors braced for Trump's announcement.

Many investors expected Trump to pull the United States out of the landmark 2015 agreement in a move that would reimpose U.S. sanctions on Iran's oil sector and central bank and sharply ratchet up tensions with Tehran.

Fears that the United States will reimpose sanctions sent premium crude prices above $70 a barrel in New York trading on May 7 for the first time since November 2014.

London's benchmark Brent North Sea crude prices soared to $76.17, also the highest since late 2014.

But while investors worried about the market effects of Trump's decision, the Iranian Oil Ministry announced that it expects to continue pumping and exporting oil even if the United States pulls out of the agreement.

"They cannot stop Iran. Our oil industry's development will continue even if new sanctions are imposed on Iran," the ministry's SHANA news service quoted Gholamreza Manuchehri, deputy head of the National Iranian Oil Company, as saying on its website.

Iran reemerged as a top oil exporter in January 2016 when international sanctions were lifted under the deal in exchange for curbs on Iran's nuclear program aimed at ensuring Iran cannot develop nucear weapons.

Manuchehri said Iran plans to finalize seven contracts worth around $40 billion with foreign investors by mid-year, SHANA reported.

Iran produces nearly 4 million barrels a day out of global total of about 98 million barrels per day.

Gholamreza Manuchehri
Gholamreza Manuchehri

Most of Iran's increased oil business since 2016 has been with European and Asian businesses and consumers, as U.S. businesses are still prohibited from engaging with Iran.

Deputy Oil Minister Amirhossein Zamaninia said "if we can continue to sell our oil and its products" around the world, Tehran will continue to honor the nuclear deal even if the United States pulls out.

President Rohani said on May 7 that his country would remain in the nuclear accord even if the United States withdraws, on the condition that the other parties -- France, Britain, China, Russia, and Germany -- stick with the agreement.

"Either what we want from the nuclear deal is guaranteed by the non-American parties, or it is not the case and we will follow our own path," Rohani said on the president's website. "We are prepared for all scenarios."

Britain, France, and Germany made last-ditch efforts to try to persuade Trump to keep honoring the deal. Trump is operating under a May 12 deadline for deciding whether to reimpose U.S. sanctions on Iran.

“We are determined to save this deal because this accord safeguards against nuclear proliferation and is the right way to stop Iran getting a nuclear weapon,” said French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

"It has weaknesses, certainly, but I am convinced they can be remedied," said British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson in a New York Times opinion piece.

"Indeed, at this moment Britain is working alongside the Trump administration and our French and German allies to ensure that they are," he wrote.

Even as the pled with Trump to stick with the deal, media reported that European powers were making preparations -- as was Iran -- for dealing with what they considered to be a likely U.S. withdrawal in full or in part from the deal.

With reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters
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