Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday ruled out holding any bilateral talks with the United States, saying the Islamic republic is opposed to such negotiations in principle.
In an address to parliament, Rouhani also said Iran was ready to further reduce its commitments to a landmark 2015 nuclear deal “in the coming days” if current negotiations yield no results by Thursday.
— Press TV (@PressTV) September 3, 2019
Tehran and Washington have been at loggerheads since May last year when US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear accord and began reimposing crippling sanctions.
The arch-foes were on the cusp of confrontation in June when Iran downed a US drone and Trump ordered retaliatory strikes before canceling them at the last minute.
Iran has already increased its uranium enrichment and stockpiles, and Rouhani said Tuesday a “third step will be enacted in the coming days”
France has been leading efforts to calm the situation between US and Iran, with President Emmanuel Macron expressing hope during G7 talks in late August of organizing a meeting between Rouhani and Trump.
“Maybe there has been a misunderstanding. We’ve said it several times and we repeat it – there has been no decision to hold bilateral talks with the US,” said Rouhani.
Reporter to Trump: Macron said he'd like to see talks between you and Rouhani within weeks. Does that seem realistic?
"It does," Trump replied. "I think Iran wants to get this situation straightened out. Now is that based on fact or based on gut? It's based on gut" pic.twitter.com/gpKTQlJ6tk
— POLITICO (@politico) August 26, 2019
“In principle, we don’t want bilateral talks with the United States,” he was quoted as saying on the official government website.
“If the United States lifts all sanctions, it would be possible to talk (with them) during 5+1 meetings as in the past,” he said, referring to the six major powers involved in negotiating the 2015 deal.
Iran has hit back with countermeasures in response to the US withdrawal from the deal, which gave it relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear program.
It has already increased its uranium enrichment and stockpiles, and Rouhani said Tuesday a “third step will be enacted in the coming days” unless the remaining parties to the deal honor their own commitments.
“If by Thursday these negotiations yield no results, we will announce the third step of the reduction of our commitments,” the Iranian president said.
— Eli Dror (@edrormba) September 2, 2019
The 2015 deal was agreed between Iran and the so-called 5+1 – UN Security Council permanent members Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States plus Germany.
AFP with additional input by GVS news desk