Iran has rejected US attempts to hold high-level talks since President Donald Trump tore up a nuclear deal between Tehran and six world powers earlier this year.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo listed a dozen demands in May that he said could make up a new agreement, although Hook’s reference to a treaty, which would have to be approved by the US Senate, appears to be a new focus.
“The new deal that we hope to be able to sign with Iran, and it will not be a personal agreement between two governments like the last one, we seek a treaty,” envoy Brian Hook told an audience at the Hudson Institute think tank.
But Hook acknowledged Iranian leaders have not been interested in talks despite statements by Trump this year that the administration was willing to meet.
Tehran says it is difficult to trust a president who violates international agreements and who has torn the UN-endorsed Iran nuclear deal which was also signed by the US and five world powers.
The 2015 deal was an executive agreement that was not ratified by the US Senate and covered only Iran’s nuclear program. A treaty would require approval by the Senate.
Some opponents of the nuclear agreement have argued that Obama’s failure to seek Senate approval of the deal allowed Trump to unilaterally withdraw.
“They did not have the votes in the US Senate so they found the votes in the UN Security Council. That is insufficient in our system of government if you want to have something enduring and sustainable,” Hook said, adding that Washington hoped US sanctions would force Tehran to negotiate.
Iran views the United States as acting in bad faith by withdrawing from a deal and has longed blamed Washington for stoking instability in the Middle East. It has said Trump’s offer to negotiate contradicts his actions and accused Washington of trying to foment change of government in Iran.
In July, Trump said he was willing to meet Iran’s leaders “anytime they want” prompting speculation that a meeting might take place at the UN meetings next week.
“The Ayatollah, the president and foreign minister have all indicated they are not interested in talking,” Hook said, referring to Iran’s Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Iran says it is open to talks if Trump returns to the nuclear deal and lifts the sanctions. Talks and sanctions cannot go together, Rouhani has said on record.
European and Asian countries have been trying to salvage the nuclear deal despite new US sanctions against Tehran.