U.S. President Donald Trump's surprising statement on July 31 that he is willing to meet Iran's leadership without "preconditions" is being seen with deep skepticism in Tehran.
Iranian foreign ministry said on Tuesday that Trump's offer contradicts his actions, pointing to U.S. moves to impose sanctions on Iran and put pressure on other countries to avoid conducting business with it. "Sanctions and pressures are the exact opposite of dialogue," Qasemi was quoted as saying by Fars news agency.
On Monday, a week after threatening Iran with war and nearly three months after withdrawing the United States from the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran, Trump offered to meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to discuss how to improve ties.
Aljazeera quoted Ali Motahari, deputy speaker of Iran's parliament, as saying negotiations "would be a humiliation" following the U.S.' withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear pact with world powers. "If Trump had not withdrawn from the nuclear deal and not imposed (new) sanctions on Iran, there would be no problem with negotiations with America," he told state news agency IRNA.
Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif who was at the forefront of the negotiations for the nuclear deal was even more blunt about his thoughts on Trump’s outreach. He tweeted, “Iran & US had 2 yrs of talks. With EU/E3+Russia+China, we produced a unique multilateral accord—the JCPOA. It’s been working. US can only blame itself for pulling out & leaving the table. Threats, sanctions & PR stunts won’t work. Try respect: for Iranians & for int'l commitments.”
Iran & US had 2 yrs of talks. With EU/E3+Russia+China, we produced a unique multilateral accord—the JCPOA. It’s been working. US can only blame itself for pulling out & leaving the table. Threats, sanctions & PR stunts won’t work. Try respect: for Iranians & for int'l commitments
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) July 31, 2018
With the first U.S. sanctions due to come into effect next Monday, the economy in Iran has already been hit, giving rise to growing fears of prolonged economic suffering. Trump’s offer sounds hollow when his actions prove that he is willing to hurt the Iranian economy before any talks.
Not surprisingly, in the face of Trump's offer to meet, Rouhani has turned to the Europeans, calling on them to proclaim the U.S. as having "illegally" withdrawn from the deal, and stating the ball is in their court.
The U.S., therefore, can no longer rely on its old partners in Europe to make the strategy of confronting Iran work. Trump is on his own – be it talking or blustering.