EU: Time has come to resume dialogue
Britain: 'Small window' to save nuclear deal
Iran is ready to hold talks with the United States if Washington lifts sanctions on Tehran and returns to the 2015 nuclear deal it quit last year, President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised speech.
“We have always believed in talks ... if they lift sanctions, end the imposed economic pressure and return to the deal, we are ready to hold talks with America today, right now and anywhere,” Rouhani said in his Sunday speech.
“The moment you stop sanctions and bullying and come back to your senses and the way of logic, we are ready to negotiate,” Rouhani said in his meeting with local officials in North Khorasan Province.
US President Donald Trump’s administration has said it is open to negotiations with Iran on a more far-reaching agreement on nuclear and security issues.
But Iran has made any talks conditional on first being able to export as much oil as it did before the United States withdrew from the nuclear pact with world powers in May 2018.
Despite calling for talks with Iran, Trump said on Wednesday that US sanctions on Iran would soon be increased “substantially”.
Existing US sanctions have targeted Iran’s main foreign revenue stream from crude oil exports, which Trump in May moved to try to eliminate entirely.
In reaction, Tehran said it would scale back its commitments under the deal, under which it had agreed to curb its nuclear program in return for relief from US and other economic sanctions that had crippled its economy.
Rouhani said Washington has tried in vain to rally the world behind it in forcing Iran to leave the nuclear deal through sanctions and “economic warfare.”
“As a seasoned nation and a [seasoned] government, we are dealing with an inexperienced administration in the US,” he said.
In an interview with The Washington Post newspaper, Pompeo dismissed Rouhani’s proposal as “the same offer that he offered to John F. Kerry and Barack Obama,” referring to the former US secretary of state and president.
“President Trump will obviously make the final decision. But this is a path that the previous administration had gone down and it led to the (Iran nuclear deal) which this administration, President Trump and I both believe was a disaster,” Pompeo said.
Call for dialogue
Calling for dialogue among all to resume, France, Britain and Germany – who are parties to the deal alongside Russia and China – said on Sunday they were preoccupied by the escalation of tensions between the US and Iran and the risk the nuclear deal might fall apart.
“We believe that the time has come to act responsibly and to look for ways to stop the escalation of tension and resume dialogue,” they said in a joint statement that was released by the French president’s office.
Rejecting a warning by the European parties to the pact to continue its full compliance, Iran has amassed more low-enriched uranium than permitted and has started to enrich uranium above the 3.67% set by the agreement.
“The risks are such that it is necessary for all stakeholders to pause, and consider the possible consequences of their actions,” France, Britain and Germany, which have been trying to salvage the pact by shielding Iran’s economy from sanctions, said in their statement.
Iran has said that it will further decrease its commitments if Europeans fail to fulfill their promises to guarantee Iran’s interests under the deal.
Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman for Iran’s nuclear agency, said on Monday Tehran will return to the situation before its nuclear deal unless European countries and the US fulfill their obligations.
“If the Europeans and the United States do not fulfill their commitments, we will balance out their actions under the deal by reducing commitments and taking the conditions back to how they were four years ago,” he said.
He said the accord was supposed to be an "exchange deal" but "what we were giving [within its framework] was way more than what we were getting in return.”
French President Emmanuel Macron dispatched his top diplomat to Tehran last week to offer suggestions on how to freeze the current status quo to gain some time and had said he wanted to review the diplomatic progress by July 15.
“We told President Rouhani what the parameters of a pause could be and we’re waiting for a response from the Iranians, but their point of departure is relatively far because they are demanding the immediate lifting of sanctions,” said a French presidential official.
In New York, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Sunday pointed the finger at the Europeans.
"The Europeans claim they were willing to maintain the nuclear deal, but we have not seen Europe yet to be ready for an investment," Zarif said.
“There is a serious difference between doing something and announcing your willingness,” he said.
Expressing one's interest and preparedness to save an international agreement "is totally different from being ready to make the investments required to save that deal and the Europeans have not done that yet," Zarif said.
The European are still trying to put its INSTEX trade mechanism in place with Iran, but the Iranian mirror entity has yet to be established and should it go ahead would initially only deal in products such as pharmaceuticals and foods, which are not subject to US sanctions.
'Small window' to save deal
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Monday that there is still time to save the Iran nuclear deal and that despite the United States being Britain’s closest ally it disagreed on how to handle the issue.
“There is still some closing, but small window to keep the deal alive,” Hunt told reporters on arrival for a foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels.
When asked whether the European powers would seek to penalize Iran for breaking parts of its nuclear commitments, Hunt said they would seek a meeting of the parties to deal with it.
“We will and there’s something called a joint commission, which is the mechanism set up in the deal which is what happens when one side thinks the other side has breached it, that will happen very soon,” he said.
Hunt, who is vying to become British prime minister, said that while he agreed with the United States on finding a long-term solution to Iran’s regional influence, he disagreed on Washington’s current approach.
“What the US knows is that we consider them our closest ally, we believe the alliance between the UK and the US has been the foundation of global peace and prosperity over the last 75 years, but friends sometimes disagree,” he said.
“This is one of the very rare occasions when we do disagree.”
France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Monday that Europe has to remain united in trying to preserve the Iran nuclear deal, and said Tehran should reverse its decision not to comply with parts of the accord.
“The Europeans have to stay united on this issue,” Le Drian told reporters at a meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels. Iran’s decision to reduce compliance with the deal that the United States abandoned last year was “a bad response to a bad decision,” he said.
Reuters, AP and Press TV contributed to this story.