AIC's Chairman Senator Johnston was recently interviewed by journalist Javad Heiran-Nia of the Tehran Times and Mehr News.
The Tehran Times interview is copied below. The Persian language version in Mehr News can be found here: https://www.mehrnews.com/news/4208064
TEHRAN — Bennett Johnston, an American politician in the Democratic Party and lobbyist who represented Louisiana in the United States Senate is the current chairman of the American-Iranian Council. Mr. Johnston is of the opinion that under the present circumstances, neither the EU nor Iran would accept Trump’s new conditions that undermine the Iran nuclear contract. “We know that President Trump’s team – that is the Secretary of Defense, the National Security Adviser and Secretary of State publicly and strongly are in favor of the continuation of the agreement,” Johnston tells the Tehran Times. The Chairman of the American-Iranian Council also adds that “it is clearly not in the interest of the U.S. or Iran to withdraw from the JCPOA.” Following is the text of the interview:
Q: U.S. President Donald Trump approved the Iran nuclear deal one more time, and says he will abandon it if it is not changed. What are the changes that Trump emphasizes?
A: Trump is not really a policy man and is not explicit in what he wants. He has definite preferences for what policy directions he wants to go in, but he lacks the details. Apparently he wants to limit Iran’s ballistic missile program, he wants to make the deal restrictions permanent and not have any of it expire, and he wants more intrusive inspections.
Q: The White House wants a deal with EU signatories to put restrictions on Iran’s uranium enrichment. Under the current deal the restrictions are set to expire in 2025. Do you think the EU will accept the additional conditions? If so, will Iran accept it?
A: Under the present circumstances, I do not think that the EU or Iran would accept it. They have an agreement, which is been agreed to by all the signatories, and so under the threat of the White House withdrawing from the agreement I don’t think either the EU or Iran would accept that. I believe, however, that under the right circumstances such a deal could be negotiated because I think it is in the interest of everybody to have a permanent deal.
Q: President Trump also wants Iran’s ballistic missile program to be addressed. Iran has continually emphasized the country’s ballistic missile program is not relevant to the JCPOA and hence, the program is nonnegotiable. Based on this, do you think that this additional demand will mean the end for JCPOA?
A: We know that President Trump’s team – that is the Secretary of Defense, the National Security Adviser and Secretary of State publicly and strongly are in favor of the continuation of the agreement. And we know that President Trump changes his opinion from day to day, so it is impossible really to predict whether his threats are only bluster or whether he would actually withdraw from the JCPOA. I know that it is clearly not in the interest of the US or Iran to withdraw from the JCPOA, so I’ve got to hope at the end of the day that sense will prevail.