Iranian President Hassan Rouhani claimed Friday that the US offered to lift all sanctions against Tehran if Iran agreed to come to the table for nuclear talks, the Reuters news agency reported. The claim was immediately denied by US President Donald Trump.
“The German chancellor, the prime minister of England (Britain) and the president of France were in New York and all insisted that this meeting take place. And America says that I will lift the sanctions,” Reuters quoted Rouhani as saying upon returning from the United Nations General Assembly.
“It was up for debate what sanctions will be lifted and they had said clearly that we will lift all sanctions,” Reuters reported Rouhani saying, citing comments on the president’s official website.
Trump immediately denied the report. “Iran wanted me to lift the sanctions imposed on them in order to meet. I said, of course, NO!” Trump tweeted.
Iran wanted me to lift the sanctions imposed on them in order to meet. I said, of course, NO!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 27, 2019
Despite Iran previously saying it would only talk if the sanctions were lifted, Rouhani said Tehran rejected the offer because of the current “toxic atmosphere,” referring to the US policy of maximum pressure against Iran.
“But this action wasn’t in a manner that was acceptable, meaning that in the atmosphere of sanctions and the existence of sanctions and the toxic atmosphere of maximum pressure, even if we want to negotiate with the Americans in the 5+1 framework, no one can predict what the end and result of this negotiation will be,” Rouhani added.
The 5+1 framework is the group of the US, Russia, China, Britain and France plus Germany, who negotiated the original nuclear deal with Iran, which Trump pulled out of in 2018.
On Thursday, Rouhani urged the US to “cease this policy of maximum pressure,” saying it was driving the possibility of negotiations even further away.
Addressing the UN on Wednesday, he accused the United States of “merciless economic terrorism” stressing that security in the Persian Gulf can be guaranteed only when his nation’s security is as well — and only with the involvement of Iran’s neighbors.
“Our response to any negotiation under sanctions is negative,” he said. He said Iran has “resisted the most merciless economic terrorism” from a nation that is engaging in “international piracy.”
Iran’s economy has been buckling under the weight of the sanctions, and Trump added to them on Wednesday, targeting Tehran’s ability to sell its oil by imposing penalties on six Chinese companies and their chief executives for continuing to transport Iranian crude.
Tensions in the Middle East have risen as the nuclear deal has unraveled and Iran has turned back to expanding its nuclear enrichment program, despite previous compliance with it for up to a year after Trump’s withdrawal from the accord.
Rouhani also again denied that Iran had anything to do with drone and missile strikes against key oil facilities in Saudi Arabia on September 14 that rattled the global oil markets.
Saudi Arabia has invited UN investigators to assess where the strikes were launched from and said Iranian weapons were used. The US, France, Germany and Britain also have said they believe Iran is behind the strikes.
Agencies contributed to this report.