Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in televised remarks on Sunday that Iran is ready to talk with the U.S. about its nuclear activities if the U.S. lifts sanctions and returns to the 2015 deal that it left in 2018, the Daily Mail reported.
The sanctions President Donald Trump placed on Iran in April and May have prevented Iran from selling its oil to other countries. The inability to sell its main export has had a major impact on its economy.
Iran has responded to the sanctions by attacking oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz and shooting down an unmanned U.S. drone, which almost earned it airstrikes from the U.S. in retaliation.
Iran also announced recently that it has been enriching uranium at higher levels than allowed in the 2015 agreement, which is still in effect with several European countries.
Trump’s main foreign policy strategy is to impose sanctions or tariffs to get what he wants from them, whether it is help with immigration from Mexico or a fair tariff structure from Canada, China and others.
While this strategy has worked with Mexico and Canada, other countries, like Iran, have been less cooperative. It is admittedly difficult to get countries to act against what they believe to be their best interests.
Iran needs to sell its oil if it doesn’t want its people to suffer, but it doesn’t want to give up the chance of eventually getting nuclear weapons that it feels it needs to protect itself. Or to wage war on its enemies, which is what the U.S. and other nations fear.
Because of this, Trump is applying as much pressure as he can to try to force Iran to the table. Iran is signaling that it wants to “make a deal” with Trump, but the conditions Rouhani has put on the possibility seem to be a deal-breaker for any real negotiations to take place.
U.S. Softens Slightly
Even as Trump says more sanctions will be levied on Iran unless a new deal can be worked out, his administration has made one small concession that could lead to further talks or negotiations.
Last week, the administration said it would not sanction Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif even though Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin previously said he would be blacklisted. In fact, Zarif was given a visa and has come to the U.S. for a meeting at the U.N.
It was not clear whether anyone from the U.S. will attempt to meet with Zarif while he is in the country.
Although U.S.-Iranian relations have become ever more complex since Trump began to flex his muscles, there is still hope that Trump can get Rouhani to fold or to compromise in a way that will improve the overall situation for everyone.