Iran plays down threat of new US sanctions
Top US adviser: Trump ‘very willing’ to talk to Iran
Russia and its partners will take steps to counter new sanctions that the United States has said it will impose on Iran, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Monday.
Ryabkov did not specify what those steps would be but said the imposition of new sanctions would aggravate tensions, and that the US should instead be seeking dialogue with Iran.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also denounced as “illegal” new economic sanctions that the United States is preparing to impose on Iran.
“We consider these sanctions illegal,” Peskov said during a briefing on Monday.
Iran on Monday played down the threat of new US sanctions, saying they will have no "impact".
“We really do not know what (the new sanctions) are and what they want to target anymore, and also do not consider them to have any impact,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Seyyed Abbas Mousavi said at a press conference in Tehran.
“Are there really any sanctions left that the United States has not imposed on our country recently or in the past 40 years?” he added.
Tensions between Washington and Tehran have flared since Iranian forces on Thursday shot down a US spy drone. US President Donald Trump on Friday called off a planned retaliatory strike at the last minute, tamping down the threat of military action.
He said Washington would instead place “major additional sanctions on Iran on Monday.”
Last year, Trump unilaterally pulled the US out of a landmark 2015 deal meant to curb Iran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
The US has since imposed a slate of sanctions on the Islamic Republic designed to choke off Iranian oil sales and cripple its economy.
Trump, who has waged a "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran, has also said the US is prepared to negotiate with the Islamic Republic with "no preconditions".
Both the US and Iran have repeatedly said they want to avoid going to war. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled Monday to meet with Saudi leaders to build a "global coalition" against the Islamic Republic.
Trump talks offer
US Special Representative on Iran Brian Hook told reporters on Monday that Trump is ready to talk to Iran about a deal that would lift American sanctions but Tehran would need to curtail its nuclear and missile programs, as well as its support for proxies in the Middle East.
Hook said the United States is looking to agree a treaty that would be ratified by the US Congress, saying the 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and world powers was flawed because it had no legal basis.
Speaking by telephone from Oman, Hook said Trump “is a president who is very willing to sit down” with Iran.
Throughout the escalation, both sides have suggested they would be willing to hold talks, but the other side must move first. Iran says the United States must lift the sanctions it reimposed since abandoning the deal last year.
Hook said Iran could come to the negotiating table or watch its economy “continue to crumble.”
He said there was no diplomatic contact, or back channel, between Washington and Tehran at present.
"America’s claim of readiness for unconditional negotiation is not acceptable with the continuation of threats and sanctions," Hesameddin Ashena, an advisor to Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, said Monday on Twitter.
"We consider war and sanctions to be two sides of the same coin," he added.
Reuters and AFP contributed to this story.