Iran will continue to respect its nuclear agreement with world powers as long as its interests are preserved and it believes it can benefit from the resulting advantages, President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday during an official visit to Switzerland.
However, Rouhani appeared to threaten to disrupt oil shipments from neighbouring countries if Washington pressed ahead with its goal of forcing all countries to stop buying Iranian oil.
“The Americans have claimed they want to completely stop Iran’s oil exports. They don’t understand the meaning of this statement, because it has no meaning for Iranian oil not to be exported, while the region’s oil is exported," Iran’s presidential website, president.ir, quoted him as saying.
When asked at a news conference in Bern whether those comments constituted a threat to interfere with the shipping of neighbouring countries, Rouhani said: “Assuming that Iran could become the only oil producer unable to export its oil is a wrong assumption ... The United States will never be able to cut Iran’s oil revenues.”
Iranian officials in the past have threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, a major oil shipping route, in retaliation for any hostile US action against Iran.
The US pulled out of a multinational deal in May to lift sanctions against Iran in return for curbs to its nuclear programme. Washington has since told countries they must halt all imports of Iranian oil from November 4 or face US financial measures, with no exemptions.
On the second day of Rouhani’s official visit to Switzerland, the two countries reaffirmed their support for the Road Map agreed in February 2016 and expressed their wish to deepen relations in spite of the current circumstances and to push ahead with implementing the Road Map.
Tehran is an important partner for Switzerland both politically and economically, according to the Swiss foreign affairs ministry.
The talks between Rouhani and a government delegation led by Alain Berset, who holds the rotating Swiss presidency this year, focused on stabilising the nuclear deal with Iran following the US withdrawal and bilateral cooperation. An agreement and two declarations of intent were signed following the talks.
“You can count on us to continue these efforts [to support the nuclear agreement],” said Berset, who also underlined the value of human rights.
For his part, Rouhani said the agreement was “in the interest of every country in the world and for international peace”.
Berset called on all sides to exercise restraint and not to jeopardise the nuclear deal with Iran, which he said was an unparalleled success for international diplomacy.
With regard to the announced re-introduction of US sanctions, Switzerland said it would strive to ensure that transactions involving humanitarian goods will still be possible in future.
The talks also addressed ways in which the two states could continue to exploit the potential of their bilateral relations in view of the announced re-introduction of US sanctions.
A declaration of intent regarding health care and science is also expected to be signed, said a spokesperson for Alain Berset, who holds the rotating Swiss presidency this year.
A forum on innovation and industry with a focus on food and health will also be opened in Bern on Tuesday, according to a statement from the foreign affairs ministry. The forum, where both Berset and Rouhani will be speaking, is organised by the Swiss-Iranian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
On the first day of Rouhani’s Swiss visit, some 50 Iranians demonstrators denounced him for human rights violations and accuse him of supporting terrorism, among other things.
“Rouhani and his fascist regime are trampling civil and political rights underfoot,” it said on the posters which demonstrators handed out in front of Bern’s main railway station.
“We don’t understand why such a person is invited to Switzerland,” Amin Asaie, a protest leader, told the Swiss News Agency.
After his two-day stay in Switzerland, the Iranian president will depart for Vienna to meet his Austrian counterpart Alexander Van der Bellen.