Zarif: US can blame itself for ‘leaving table’
US President Donald Trump suggested on Tuesday that talks with Iran were imminent, but the idea has been criticized in Tehran, with the country’s foreign minister warning that “PR stunts won’t work.”
Tehran has not given a definitive response to Trump’s statement that he would meet “any time” without preconditions, but skepticism is rife in Iran over the possibility.
“I have a feeling they’ll be talking to us pretty soon,” Trump told a rally in Tampa, Florida, before adding, “And maybe not, and that’s OK too.”
He also used the occasion to again blast the “horrible, one-sided” 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers from which the American president withdrew.
“I hope it works out well with Iran. They are having a lot of difficulty right now.”
The US is set to start reimposing full sanctions on Iran from August 6 – a move that has already contributed to a major currency crisis with the rial losing two thirds of its value in six months.
The Trump administration says its “maximum pressure campaign” is designed to force Iran into a new deal that goes beyond limiting its nuclear program and includes curbs to its regional behavior and missile program.
Several Iranian public figures said it was impossible to imagine negotiations with Washington after it tore up the nuclear deal in May.
“Iran & US had 2 yrs of talks. With EU/E3+Russia+China, we produced a unique multilateral accord – the JCPOA (nuclear deal). It’s been working. US can only blame itself for pulling out & leaving the table,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter.
“Threats, sanctions & PR stunts won’t work. Try respect: for Iranians & for (international) commitments,” he said.
Ali Motahari, the deputy speaker of Parliament, also weighed in.
“With the contemptuous statements Trump addressed to Iran, the idea of negotiating is inconceivable. It would be a humiliation,” Motahari said.
“If Trump had not withdrawn from the nuclear deal and not imposed sanctions on Iran, there would be no problem with negotiations with America,” he said.
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.”
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 United States.
Many in Iran are therefore suspicious of his latest volte-face.
The Foreign Ministry spokesman said Trump's offer to negotiate with Tehran contradicted his actions as Washington has imposed sanctions on Iran and put pressure on other countries to avoid business with the Islamic Republic.
“Sanctions and pressures are the exact opposite of dialogue,” Bahram Qassemi said on Tuesday.
The commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) equally dismissed Trump’s tentative offer, saying the Islamic Republic was not North Korea.
“Mr. Trump! Iran is not North Korea to accept your offer for a meeting,” Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari said.
“Even US presidents after you will not see that day,” he added.
“The Iranian nation has many differences with those nations that submit to domination, and will never allow its authorities to hold talks and meetings with the Great Satan,” Jafari said, referring to the US.
AFP, Reuters and Press TV contributed to this story.