On Monday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced his refusal to have diplomatic contacts with the United States ahead of Washington’s imposition of new sanctions on the Persian country.
In a televised speech, Rouhani said there could be no talks insofar as Washington has reneged on the nuclear deal termed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
In May, US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the international agreement that was established in 2015 between Iran and China, France, Russia, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the US.
Washington’s abandonment of the JCPOA has caused a crisis in EU-US relations which FRN has repeatedly identified as an historic crisis of Atlanticism, as the EU seeks to maintain the agreement and pursue diplomatic and trade relations with Iran independent of US geopolitical ambitions.
Washington has recently insisted that Iran’s only way to avoid sanctions would be to agree to new talks to abandon its nuclear and missile programs. In his latest speech, Rouhani countered: “If you stab someone with a knife and say you want to talk, the first thing you need to do is remove the knife.”
“We are always in favor of diplomacy and negotiations … But negotiations need honesty,” Rouhani continued, “Trump’s call for direct talks is only for domestic consumption in America before the elections…and to create chaos in Iran.”
The US’ European allies have persistently tried and failed to persuade Trump not to leave the 2015 deal, under which Iran agreed to restrict its nuclear program in exchange for the cancellation of international sanctions. Rouhani insists that Washington will regret Trump’s decision, and recently posed the dilemma that the JCPOA “ball is in Europe’s court now.”
“The United States will regret imposing sanctions on Iran … They are already isolated in the world. They are imposing sanctions on Iranian children, patients and the nation,” the Iranian leader declared.
In the face of economic damage inflicted by the sanctions, Rouhani called on Iranians to unite: “There will be pressure because of sanctions, but we will overcome this with unity.”
The Trump administration has argued that sanctions have not gone far enough, and has demanded that Iran return to the negotiating table from which the US itself withdrew. All the while, Trump has claimed that he is willing to meet Rouhani with no prior conditions to discuss how to improve relations. The Iranian side, however, has remained adamant that Washington has shown that it is incapable of negotiating in good faith through its recent unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA.
Senior Iranian officials and military commanders have rejected Trump’s offer of talks as worthless and “a dream,” commenting that his words contradict his actions.