Rouhani says Iran prepared to talk to US if it rejoins nuclear deal
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Rouhani says Iran prepared to talk to US if it rejoins nuclear deal

European signatories to the 2015 accord call for end to the escalating tensions over Tehran’s nuclear program, say pact’s survival contingent on ‘full compliance’

President Hassan Rouhani attends a meeting with the Health Ministry officials, in Tehran, Iran, June 25, 2019. (Official website of the Iranian Presidency Office via AP)
President Hassan Rouhani attends a meeting with the Health Ministry officials, in Tehran, Iran, June 25, 2019. (Official website of the Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday said he was willing to hold talks with the US, if it rejoins the international agreement to curb Tehran’s nuclear program and lifts sanctions.

“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 was quoted by Reuters as saying in a televised speech.

He also boasted that Iran “has resisted powerfully” the American sanctions that were reimposed as part of US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear pact.

“Today anyone claiming that the Iranian nation’s will and determination has weakened in light of these pressures has made an inappropriate statement and told a lie,” he said, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.

Trump has given no indication he would return to the agreement, which he has called “the worst deal in history,” and last week said sanctions on Iran would “soon be increased substantially.”

US President Donald Trump speaks at Derco Aerospace Inc., a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin, July 12, 2019, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Rouhani’s comments came as three key European powers called for dialogue and an end to the escalation over Iran’s nuclear program, and as tensions further intensified between Tehran and the United States.

The statement by the leaders of Britain, France and Germany expressed concern that the nuclear deal risked further unraveling, but said it was up to Tehran to ensure it survived.

“We believe the time has come to act responsibly and seek a path to stop the escalation of tensions and resume dialogue,” said the English-language version of the statement issued by the Elysee.

The statement was published after French President Emmanuel Macron hosted German Chancellor Angela Merkel and senior British cabinet minister David Lidington, at the annual Bastille Day parade in Paris.

“The risks are such that it is necessary for all stakeholders to pause and consider the possible consequences of their actions,” it added.

President Hassan Rouhani listens to explanations on new nuclear achievements at a ceremony to mark “National Nuclear Day,” in Tehran, Iran, on April 9, 2018. (Official website of the Iranian Presidency Office via AP, File)

The three European powers were among the key players in the deal (known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA) on Iran’s nuclear program. Russia and China are also signatories to the agreement.

Angered that its beleaguered economy is not receiving the sanctions relief it believes was promised under the deal, Iran has intensified its sensitive uranium enrichment work in breach of the accord, prompting stern warnings from Washington.

“We are concerned by the risk that the JCPOA further unravels under the strain of sanctions imposed by the United States and following Iran’s decision to no longer implement several of the central provisions of the agreement,” said the three European powers.

“We are extremely concerned by Iran’s decision to stockpile and enrich uranium in excess of authorized limits,” their statement added, also warning over “the deterioration of the security in the region.”

The three powers said they would continue to support the nuclear deal, but said its implementation “was contingent on Iran’s full compliance.”

“We strongly urge Iran to reverse its recent decisions in this regard,” the statement said.

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