Rouhani: Talks with US possible if nuclear deal is implemented

Iranian President: We can discuss other issues with the US providing the 2015 nuclear deal is fully implemented.

Elad Benari ,

Hassan Rouhani
Hassan Rouhani

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Thursday that Iran can discuss other issues with the United States providing its 2015 nuclear deal with six powers is fully implemented.

He stressed, however, that Tehran’s missile capabilities were not negotiable.

“First, the deal should be fully implemented ... meaning that sanctions should be lifted and America should return to the nuclear deal ... and then other issues can be discussed as well,” Rouhani said, according to Reuters.

“We want America to remove its preconditions for talking to Iran, including its ‘maximum pressure’ policy against the Iranian nation” before any talks can be possible, he added at a news conference in New York during the United Nations General Assembly.

Tensions between the US and Iran have escalated since President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal last May and reimposed crippling sanctions on Iran’s economy.

Iran, in turn, has scaled back its compliance with the 2015 deal.

In recent weeks there have been failed attempts on the part of France to arrange a face-to-face meeting between Trump and Rouhani.

Trump last week said he would prefer not to meet with Rouhani. The Iranian President himself made clear that he will not meet Trump unless all sanctions against Tehran are unilaterally lifted by the US.

Iran’s ballistic missile program, which was not covered in the 2015 nuclear deal, remains a concern for the US.

Iran has continuously test fired ballistic missiles in recent years, most recently in July. In February, Iran attempted to launch a satellite into space but failed when the satellite failed to reach orbit.

The US says that Iran’s ballistic missile tests are a violation of UN Security Council resolution 2231, which enshrined Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States.

Iran denies its ballistic missile tests violate this resolution. Rouhani has stressed in the past that Iran will continue to produce missiles for its defense and does not consider that a violation of international agreements.

On Thursday, he said that Iran’s moves to scale back its nuclear commitments were reversible if the European parties to the pact carried out their promises to shield Iran’s economy from US penalties.

“The European parties have proved their inability or lack of determination ... to keep the deal alive in practice. They want to save the pact, but they want Iran to pay the cost for it,” said Rouhani, according to Reuters.

Rouhani also touched on the subject of swaps of US and Iranian prisoners, saying his country had in the past held talks with Washington over the issue.

He pointed to the release in June of a Lebanese citizen with US residency who was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being convicted of spying for the United States.

“After his release, Americans thanked us but failed to reciprocate. Therefore, the ball is in the American’s court now,” Rouhani stated.