Removing sanctions on Iran could salvage nuclear deal – Tehran

Iran’s supreme leader will not meet US President Donald Trump unless Washington halts its “economic terrorism” targeting the country, its foreign minister has said.

Removing sanctions on Iran could salvage nuclear deal – Tehran

Iran’s supreme leader will not meet US President Donald Trump unless Washington halts its “economic terrorism” targeting the country, its foreign minister has said.

Mohammad Javad Zarif said the removal of US sanctions – which he described as a form of extortion, arm twisting and intimidation – could also help salvage the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, which Washington unilaterally withdrew from last year.

He said Tehran has the right to reduce its compliance under the nuclear pact after the US left, but it can return to full implementation if Washington fulfils its commitment and returns to the table.

“We are prepared to leave (the pact) because we have nothing to lose,” he told a forum in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

But Tehran also believes that the only way to avoid a “nuclear holocaust” is to destroy all nuclear weapons, he said.

“We say that if you (the US) come back to your commitments, you fulfil your commitments and the commitments are to normalise economic relations with Iran, we will revert back to full implementation and that is still on the table,” he added.

In recent months, Tehran has announced it will cross limits imposed by the multi-national pact on the size and potency of its nuclear stockpile.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday backed off from possible talks with Mr Trump, just a day after the US president said the two could meet on their nuclear impasse after a surprise intervention by French President Emmanuel Macron during the G7 summit this week.

His U-turn can be seen as a result of pressure from hard-liners in the Iranian establishment who oppose taking a softer tone towards the West.

Iran has also lost billions of pounds in business deals allowed by the accord as the US re-imposed and escalated sanctions largely blocking Tehran from selling crude abroad, a crucial source of hard currency for the Islamic Republic.

“They are engaged in economic terrorism and the basic principle in a civilised world is that you do not negotiate with terrorists. If they want to negotiate, they have to abandon terrorism,” Mr Zarif said, in reference to the sanctions.

It won’t be possible for us to engage with the United States unless they stop imposing war, engaging in economic terrorism, against the Iranian people.

In past weeks, the Persian Gulf region has seen six attacks on oil tankers that the US has blamed on Iran and the downing of an American surveillance drone by Iranian forces. Iran denied it was behind the tanker attacks.

But in July, Iran seized British-flagged tanker the Stena Impero after the UK held an Iranian tanker thought to be carrying fuel to Syria in violation of international sanctions.

The Iranian vessel was released earlier this month, but the British vessel is still being held.

Mr Zarif said the British tanker had violated Iran’s sea laws and will need to go through the court system. He said Iran will help expedite the legal process.

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