TEHRAN, Iran — Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Wednesday it was hard to imagine new talks with the US after it lost the trust of the world with its erratic decision-making.
“Imagine negotiating now — how can we trust them?” Zarif told reporters on state broadcaster IRINN. “America has zigzagged constantly, so now no one trusts them.”
Zarif was speaking a day after Washington reimposed a first tranche of harsh sanctions following its withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
US President Donald Trump says he wants talks with Iran on a new deal covering the full range of its “malign behavior” in the region, which has been dismissed by Iran.
“There is a big difference this time,” said Zarif. “Before, nobody supported Iran. But now, all the countries in the world are supporting Iran.”
Europeans, also signatories to the JCPOA agreement, have said they are determined to save the text, with the EU saying on Tuesday it aimed to “protect European economic operators engaged in legitimate business with Iran.”
The first wave of US sanctions took effect on Tuesday. It includes blockages on financial transactions and imports of raw materials, as well as penalizing measures on purchases in the automotive sector and commercial aviation.
It will be followed in November by other measures affecting the oil and gas sector as well as the Central Bank.
While cheered by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior Israeli officials, the reimposition of US sanctions was bemoaned by the nuclear deal’s European signatories and the EU, which defended the accord and vowed to protect European firms from US economic penalties.
In a White House statement announcing the sanctions, Trump repeated his criticisms of the deal, and argued that Iran’s behavior since the pact was implemented has vindicated his long-held position.
“The JCPOA, a horrible, one-sided deal, failed to achieve the fundamental objective of blocking all paths to an Iranian nuclear bomb, and it threw a lifeline of cash to a murderous dictatorship that has continued to spread bloodshed, violence, and chaos,” Trump said.
“Since the deal was reached, Iran’s aggression has only increased. The regime has used the windfall of newly accessible funds it received under the JCPOA to build nuclear-capable missiles, fund terrorism, and fuel conflict across the Middle East and beyond.”
Following Trump’s announced US departure from the deal in May, the White House has, through 17 rounds, sanctioned 38 Iran-related targets.
The objective, the administration has indicated, is to change Iranian behavior.
“Reimposition of nuclear-related sanctions through today’s actions further intensifies pressure on Tehran to change its conduct,” Trump said Monday.
In May, Trump withdrew the United States from the Iran nuclear deal forged under the Obama administration along with five other world powers, a move that set in motion a renewal of sanctions against Iran that had been removed once the landmark accord was implemented in January 2016.
In Israel, the reimposition of US sanctions was lauded as a historic turning point that could ultimately lead to the Islamic Republic’s downfall, with senior officials calling on other countries to follow suit.
“It symbolizes the determination to curb Iran’s regional aggression and its ongoing plans to arm itself with nuclear weapons,” said Netanyahu in a video released Monday, moments after Trump signed new sanctions into law.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.