During a recent trip to Switzerland, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated unequivocally that the U.S. is ready to talk with Iran.
“We’re ready to sit down with them,” said Pompeo. “We’re prepared to engage in a conversation with no preconditions,” adding, however, that the “American effort to fundamentally reverse the malign activity” attributed to Iran “is going to continue.”
Iranian officials responded to Pompeo’s offer with nothing but skepticism. Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi responded by saying: “The Islamic Republic of Iran does not pay attention to wordplay and expression of hidden agenda in new forms.” Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani presented the U.S. is ready to talk to Iran as a sign of his country’s strength. “The enemies sometimes say they have conditions for negotiations with Iran…but in recent weeks they said they have no conditions. They threatened us as if they were a military superpower, but now they say they do not seek a war,” he said.
The first time the administration had proposed dialogue with the Islamic Republic was nearly a year ago in July 2018. Trump himself had raised the idea of talks “without preconditions” just two months after his decision to withdraw from the Obama-era nuclear deal. In the eleven months since then, America has imposed some of the harshest sanctions ever on Tehran, crippling the country’s economy.
The message the administration is sending is quite clear: The old situation was untenable. We will not revert back to the Obama days. But war is not our agenda. Can we come to a new compromise?
Unfortunately, for the time being at least, Tehran is not expressing any interest in renegotiations. As far is Iranian leaders are concerned, it’s reverting back to the 2015 nuclear deal, or nothing. As President Rouhani sees it, the U.S. needs to resume compliance with the deal for talks to even be considered. “The other side that left the negotiating table and breached a treaty should return to a normal state,” said Rouhani.