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Iran: No new negotiations with US

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif speaks during the Valdai Discussion Club titled ''Russia in the Middle East: Playing on All Fields'' in Moscow, Russia on 19 February, 2018 [Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency]
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Moscow, Russia on 19 February, 2018 [Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency]

Iran sees “no prospect of negotiations with America”, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said today, one day after US President Donald Trump said a new nuclear deal was a “possibility”.

“We do not have any talks with the US, and our basis is on respecting international pacts to which the US can return,” Abbas Mousavi told Fars news agency in Tehran.

Mousavi’s comments refer to the US’ withdrawal from the landmark 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal, saying it had ruined the chance for negotiation.

“Iran pays no attention to words; what matters to us is a change of approach and behaviour,” he added.

Mousavi’s comments come a day after Trump said he “believe[d] that Iran would like to make a deal … I think that’s a possibility to happen.”

READ: US officials seek to tamp down Trump rhetoric on Iran

Trump unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA in May last year, saying that he wanted a “better deal”. The nuclear deal between Iran, the US, the UK, Germany, France, Russia and China – exchanged sanction relief for Tehran limiting its uranium storage and enrichment.

During the press conference, Trump also said that the US was not seeking “regime change” – a term that he was reportedly “frustrated” with his advisors using, according to reports from senior American officials earlier this month.

“Actions – not words – will show whether or not that’s Donald Trump’s intent,” Iranian Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, tweeted in response yesterday.

Zarif’s tweet added that the “#B_Team” – Trump’s national security advisor John Bolton, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed – were the cause of “economic terrorism” against Iran.

Zarif also sought to dispel Trump’s accusations of Iran seeking to make nuclear weapons, saying Ayatollah Khamenei’s 2003 religious fatwa (edict) makes their production haram (religiously prohibited).

“Ayatollah @khamenei_ir long ago said we’re not seeking nuclear weapons—by issuing a fatwa (edict) banning them.”

READ: Iran calls on Trump to address Iranians with respect, not threat of war

Since Trump reinstated sanctions on Iran in November last year the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Tehran was keeping within the agreed JCPOA limits of uranium enrichment and storage.

Earlier this month, in response to Trump’s withdrawal, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that Iran had stopped complying with certain elements of the JCPOA, including the stockpiling of low-enriched uranium.

He gave the remaining members of the JCPOA 60 days to improve Iran’s economy before Tehran suspends further compliance with the accord.

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