Trump: No indication of Iran threat
Zarif warns US ‘playing a very, very dangerous game’
Iran asks UN chief to help ease tensions
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called the US administration “novice politicians with naive ideas”, saying President Donald Trump has stepped back from his threats against Tehran after military aides advised him against a war with the Islamic Republic.
Speaking in the West Azarbaijan Province on Tuesday, Rouhani also said the unity of the Iranian nation changed Trump’s decision to wage war.
Rouhani reiterated that Iran will not give in to US pressure.
“Pressure may create difficult conditions, but the Iranian nation does not bow to bullies,” he said as he inaugurated a water development project.
Situation unfavorable for talks
On Monday night, Rouhani rejected any talks with the United States and called for the government to be given more power to run the sanctions-hit economy in an “economic war.”
“Today’s situation is not suitable for talks and our choice is resistance only,” Rouhani said.
Trump withdrew the United States a year ago from a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and global powers under which Tehran curbed its uranium enrichment capacity and won sanctions relief in return.
Trump restored US sanctions on Iran last year and has ratcheted them up this month, ordering all countries to halt imports of Iranian oil or face sanctions of their own. Washington says it aims to push Tehran into fresh negotiations on a broader arms control deal. Iran has repeatedly rejected any further negotiations as long as the United States remains outside the nuclear pact.
Rouhani compared the situation to Iran’s war with Iraq in the 1980s, when hundreds of thousands of people were killed, and said the government needed similar powers to those it was given at the time to manage the economy.
“In no earlier period have we faced today’s problems in banking and oil sales, so we need everyone to concentrate and feel the conditions of economic war,” Rouhani said.
The rial currency lost about 60 percent of its value in 2018 under the threat of the revived US sanctions, disrupting Iran’s foreign trade and boosting annual inflation.
Trump again calls for talks
Trump said on Monday that Iran would be met with “great force” if it attempted anything against US interests in the Middle East, but conceded there was no indication anything has happened.
“We have no indication that anything has happened or will happen but if it does, it will be met obviously with great force. We'll have no choice,” he said.
Trump added that he was willing to have talks with Tehran “when they’re ready.”
“If they call we would certainly negotiate but that's going to be up to them. I'd only want them to call if they're ready. If they're not ready, they don't have to bother,” Trump noted.
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said his country won't negotiate with Trump unless the US shows Tehran "respect" by honoring its commitments under the nuclear deal.
In an exclusive interview with CNN, Zarif warned the US was "playing a very, very dangerous game" by boosting its military presence in the region.
Zarif criticized the US for sending the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the Persian Gulf. "Having all these military assets in a small area is in of itself prone to accidents," Zarif said. "Extreme prudence is required and the United States is playing a very, very dangerous game."
He criticized Washington for walking out first on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, the 2015 deal. "We acted in good faith," Zarif said of the deal, which was signed by the US, Iran, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia. "We are not willing to talk to people who have broken their promises."
Appeal for UN help
Iran's Ambassador to the United Nations Majid Takht-Ravanchi urged UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to help launch a diplomatic dialogue to ease the current "alarming security situation" in the broader Persian Gulf region.
Takht-Ravanchi said in a letter to the UN chief and the Security Council that the United Nations must not remain indifferent "to addressing the root causes of the current state of affairs."
He accused "certain circles from outside of this region" of provocative policies, and escalating tensions in the Middle East.
Takht-Ravanchi warned that "the eruption of any possible conflict will soon cross over from the regional level and will definitely have serious and extensive implications on international peace and security."
The ambassador added that Iran "will never choose war," but that "if war is imposed on us, Iran will vigorously exercise its inherent right to self-defense."
Earlier on Monday, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric voiced concern over the rising rhetoric between Washington and Tehran and urged both sides to dial down their remarks.
"We would ask all parties to lower the rhetoric and lower the threshold of action, as well," he said.
UN officials are holding contacts with the US and Iran at various levels to try to calm the situation, said Dujarric, without providing details of the talks.
Iraq will send delegations to Tehran and Washington to help “halt tension” amid fears of a confrontation between Iran and the United States in the Middle East, Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said on Tuesday.
He said there were no Iraqi groups that wanted to push toward a war.
Reuters and AP also contributed to this report.