On July 31st, US President Donald Trump claimed that talks with Iran are imminent and will happen “pretty soon.”
While speaking at a rally in Florida, he said: “I have a feeling they’ll be talking to us pretty soon, and maybe not, and that’s OK, too.” He also used the occasion to once again reiterate his position on the “horrible, one-sided” 2015 Iran Nuclear deal, from which the US withdrew on May 8th.
Earlier, on July 30th, during a joint press conference after the meeting between Italian Prime Minister and US President Donald Trump. The President also said that he was prepared to meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani “any time they want to.” He also asserted that he would “certainly meet” with Iranians with “no preconditions.”
However, also on July 30th, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appeared on CNBC and set some conditions for the meeting: “We’ve said this before. If the Iranians demonstrate a commitment to make fundamental changes in how they treat their own people, reduce their malign behavior, can agree that it’s worthwhile to enter into a nuclear agreement that actually prevents proliferation, then the president said he’s prepared to sit down and have the conversation with them.”
Trump’s July 30th and 31st’s position towards Tehran is a complete counter to the attitude he expressed with his July 23rd tweet of threatening Iran after President Rouhani’s announcement that “that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace and war with Iran is the mother of all wars.”
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi answered that what Trump is saying contradicts his actions of imposing sanctions and pressuring other countries into avoiding business with Tehran. Cited by PressTV, his words were: “Sanctions and pressures are the exact opposite of dialogue which requires mutual respect and commitment to international treaties. How can he prove to the Iranian nation that the comments he made last night showed his true intention for negotiation and were not expressed for populist gains?” He also asserted that a military confrontation with the US is out of the question, however Iran is ready for every scenario.
As a response, on July 30th, Hamid Aboutalebi, Rouhani’s adviser, said on twitter ”Respecting the Iranian nation’s rights, reducing hostilities and returning to the nuclear deal are steps that can be taken to pave the bumpy road of talks between Iran and America.”
Also, on July 30th, Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, also dismissed Trump’s offer saying “Iran is not North Korea to accept your offer for a meeting. Even U.S. presidents after you will not see that day.” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted: “Threats, sanctions & PR stunts won’t work. Try respect: for Iranians & for (international) commitments.”
On July 31st Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted: “Threats, sanctions & PR stunts won’t work. Try respect: for Iranians & for (international) commitments.” He further condemned a US decision from August 1st to impose sanctions on two Turkish officials. On August 2nd he tweeted the following “US’ unlawful sanctions against two Turkish ministers – from an allied country – illustrates not just US administration’s policy of pressure and extortion in lieu of statecraft, but that its addiction to sanctions knows no bounds.”
US-Iran relations have been worsening since the May 8th withdrawal of US from the Iran Nuclear Deal. After the departure, the US also threatened to impose sanctions, the first of which are to go into effect in August 2018. The deal’s EU partners have since made a bid to assist Iran in dealing with the sanctions and filling the gap left by the US. Despite EU’s vows, on July 18th, an Iranian factory began producing centrifuge rotors. This came a month after Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in a statement ordered agencies to prepare to increase uranium enrichment capacity, if the deal falls apart after the US withdrawal.