According to the country’s foreign ministry, Iran is open to talks with the U.S. if the Trump administration agrees to lift sanctions.
Earlier this week, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif told American media sources that Tehran is willing to come to the negotiating table. “Once those sanctions are lifted…the room for negotiation is wide open,” Zarif said in an NBC News interview that aired Monday.
Zarif, who is in New York for meetings at the United Nations, accused the U.S. of abandoning the diplomatic approach when it pulled out of the Obama-era nuclear deal last year.
Zarif claimed the U.S. is escalating Middle East tensions by selling billions of dollars of weapons to regional rivals Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, threatening his country’s ballistic missile program. “These are American weaponry that is going into our region, making our region ready to explode,” he said. “So if they want to talk about our missiles, they need to first stop selling all these weapons, including missiles, to our region.” Zarif was referring to Trump’s recent call for new negotiations with Iran that would include the country’s ballistic missile program.
Iran has been desperately trying a wide range of tactics to counter the effects of the U.S. leaving the deal and reimposing sanctions. Tehran has also begun violating aspects of the deal, to which it is still technically a signatory.
The fact that Iran is now open to talks with the U.S. is a further indication of Tehran’s desperate state. There is no avoiding the fact that sanctions have hurt the country in a substantial way. On the other hand, Trump seems to have long hoped the Iranians would eventually come around and open up to talks. This seems to have been the president’s intention with pulling out of the deal, as he made clear when he originally announced the U.S. withdrawal.
As far as Iran’s demands of sanctions relief as prerequisite to talks, it is doubtful the administration will extend that gesture. Similar to its policy on North Korea, the president and his people will most likely need to see some substantial change before a reversal of sanctions is even on the table.