By Agence France-Presse
President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday that the United States’ “warmongering” was a failure, as Iran welcomed the sacking of hawkish US national security adviser John Bolton.
Rouhani also dismissed the prospect of meeting President Donald Trump at a time his US administration is continuing to slap more crippling sanctions on the Islamic republic.
“The Americans must understand that bellicosity and warmongering don’t work in their favour. Both… must be abandoned,” Rouhani told his cabinet.
“The enemy imposed ‘maximum pressure’ on us. Our response is to resist and confront this,” he said.
Arch-foes Tehran and Washington have been at loggerheads since May last year when Trump unilaterally withdrew from a 2015 nuclear deal and began reimposing the punitive measures.
Iran responded by scaling back its commitments to the accord, which gave it the promise of sanctions relief in return for curbs on its nuclear programme.
Trump tweeted his decision to dismiss Bolton on Tuesday.
Iranian presidential adviser Hesameddin Ashena hailed the move as a “clear sign of the defeat of America’s maximum pressure strategy” against Tehran.
– ‘Commitment for commitment’ –
Trump warned later Wednesday that it would be “very, very dangerous” for Iran to boost its enriched uranium stockpiles.
But asked whether the US would lift sanctions to pave the way to a meeting with Rouhani, the US president replied “we will see what happens”.
Rouhani told his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron in a phone call that talks with the United States would be “meaningless” unless it lifts sanctions.
“As Iran’s government, parliament and people see it, negotiating with the United States is meaningless as long as sanctions are in place,” Rouhani told Macron, according to the government’s website.
Macron has been spearheading European efforts to de-escalate tensions and last month floated the idea of a Trump-Rouhani meeting.
Rouhani responded that Iran was ready to comply with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action only if the Americans did so too.
“We have said many times that our policy… is one of peaceful (nuclear) technology, and that our approach in the JCPOA is commitment for commitment,” he said.
“We have taken the third step… If it is essential and necessary in the future, we will take other steps.”
Iran said Saturday it was firing up advanced centrifuges to enrich uranium at a faster rate — its third step back from the nuclear deal.
It had announced on July 1 that its enriched uranium stockpile had surpassed the deal’s 300-kilogramme threshold, and a week later that it had exceeded a 3.67-percent cap on the purity of its stocks.
– ‘Moustache removal means little’ –
Iran’s UN representative poured cold water on any talk of a Trump-Rouhani meeting.
Majid Takht-Ravanchi said a meeting could take place only if Washington ended its “economic terrorism” and that it would have to be held in the framework of the group of major powers that negotiated the nuclear deal.
“As long as the US government’s economic terrorism and such cruel sanctions are imposed on the Iranian people, there is no room for negotiations,” he said, quoted by state news agency IRNA.
The envoy said the dismissal of Bolton — a hardliner accused of pushing Trump towards war against Iran — was “an internal affair”.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif suggested little would change with Bolton’s removal.
“As the world… was breathing a sigh of relief” over his ouster, “Pompeo and Mnuchin declared further escalation of #EconomicTerrorism against Iran,” he tweeted.
That came after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Trump was willing to meet Rouhani without preconditions, but Mnuchin stressed the US would maintain its “maximum pressure” campaign.
Mohammad Marandi, head of the American studies department at Tehran University, cast doubt over the possibility Trump could meet Rouhani at the UN General Assembly later this month.
“Such a meeting will not take place. The removal of a moustache person from the White House means little,” he tweeted.
Iran’s envoy to the UN’s atomic watchdog rejected “undue pressure” from the US and Israel over his country’s nuclear programme.
Kazem Gharib Abadi said recent US and Israeli statements amounted to “a US-Israeli plot” to put pressure on the agency and its inspection activities in Iran.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week accused Iran of operating a previously undisclosed site aimed at developing nuclear weapons and then destroying it after it was detected.
Gharib Abadi called the Israeli allegations “baseless”.