TEHRAN Scepticism was rife in Iran on Tuesday after US President Donald Trump offered talks, with one lawmaker saying negotiations would be a “humiliation”.
The country’s top leaders did not give an immediate response to Trump’s statement a day earlier that he would meet them “any time” without preconditions.
But several public figures said it was impossible to imagine negotiations with Washington after it tore up the 2015 nuclear deal in May.
“With the contemptuous statements [Trump] addressed to Iran, the idea of negotiating is inconceivable. It would be a humiliation,” said Ali Motahari, deputy speaker of parliament, according to the conservative Fars News. “America is not trustworthy. After it arrogantly and unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear agreement, how can it be trusted?” added Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, according to Fars.
The US is set to start reimposing full sanctions on Iran from Aug 6 — a move that has already contributed to a major currency crisis with the rial losing two-thirds of its value in six months.
Only last week, Trump fired off an all-caps tirade at his counterpart Hassan Rouhani on Twitter, warning of untold “suffering” if Iran continued to threaten the US. Many in Iran are therefore suspicious of his latest volte-face.
“We cannot negotiate with someone who violates international commitments, threatens to destroy countries, and constantly changes his position,” said analyst Mohammad Marandi, of the University of Tehran, who was part of the nuclear negotiating team.
Some officials remained more receptive.
“Negotiations with the United States must not be a taboo,” said Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, head of parliament’s foreign affairs commission, in an interview with the semi-official ISNA news agency.
“Trump understands that he does not have the capacity to wage war with Iran, but due to historic mistrust, diplomatic ties have been destroyed,” said Falahatpisheh, adding that this left no choice but to work towards reducing tensions.
Motahari added that hardliners, who have long opposed any rapprochement with the US, share the blame for the collapse of the nuclear deal. “If the whole Iranian system had worked to implement this agreement, today we would be witnessing the presence of European companies in Iran and their investments, and even Trump would not be able to withdraw so easily from the deal,” he said. “But from the start one part of the system did not want the agreement to work.”
Foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi on Monday said “there is no possibility for talks”, ahead of Trump’s statement. “Washington reveals its untrustworthy nature day by day,” Ghasemi said, according to the conservative-aligned Mehr news agency.
The Trump administration says its “maximum pressure campaign” is designed to force Iran into a new deal that goes beyond limiting its nuclear programme and includes curbs to its regional behaviour and missile programme.
Iran talks may be ‘pretty soon’: Trump
US President Donald Trump has claimed that talks with Iran are imminent and could happen “pretty soon,” a day after he expressed willingness to meet with the Islamic Republic’s leaders without “preconditions.”
“I have a feeling they’ll be talking to us pretty soon,” Trump said at a rally in Florida on Tuesday. “And maybe not, and that’s OK, too.”
The US president also used the occasion to once again denounce as “horrible, one-sided” the 2015 Iran nuclear deal – known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – from which he withdrew in May.
Trump announced on Monday that he was willing to meet with Iranians “any time they want to.”
The US president says he is ready to meet Iran’s President Rouhani without preconditions. Only hours later, his secretary of state sets conditions for the offer of talks with Iran.
Shortly after that, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appeared on CNBC to set some conditions.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi responded to Trump’s offer by noting that it was in contradiction his actions of imposing sanctions and pressuring other countries into avoiding business with Tehran.
“Sanctions and pressures are the exact opposite of dialogue which requires mutual respect and commitment to international treaties,” he said. “How can he prove to the Iranian nation that the comments he made last night showed his true intention for negotiation and were not expressed for populist gains?”
The US should blame itself for ending talks with Iran when it left the nuclear deal with Iran, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA,) says Iranian foreign minister.
Back in May, Pompeo had set 12 conditions for talks with Iran, which were dismissed by Tehran.
Trump’s latest stance towards Tehran runs counter to his recent threatsagainst the nation as well as pulling Washington out of the Iran nuclear deal despite having the support of almost all US allies.
The withdrawal entails the re-imposition of not only sanctions on Iran but also the so-called secondary sanctions on third countries.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has denounced the US withdrawal from the 2015 international nuclear deal, saying the ball is now in Europe’s court to make up for Washington’s absence and work to keep the landmark agreement alive
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