Former IRGC commander: We should have accepted U.S. call to negotiate

Alaee added that, "we cannot leave aside negotiations, whether at the apex of power or in a position of weakness."

July 3, 2019 12:40
2 minute read.
Former IRGC commander: We should have accepted U.S. call to negotiate

US President Donald Trump announces his intention to withdraw from the JCPOA Iran nuclear agreement during a statement in the Diplomatic Room at the White House in Washington, US, May 8, 2018. (photo credit: REUTERS/JONATHAN ERNST)

Iran should have begun negotiations when the US pulled out of the nuclear deal, said the former joint chief commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in a speech on Sunday, Radio Farda reported.

"It would have been better to have negotiated when [US President Donald] Trump announced he would leave JCPOA, and tried to prevent it, or when Trump said he would negotiate without preconditions," said Hossein Alaee, the former IRGC commander. "We should have responded, saying that we will negotiate but based on our own agenda [priorities]."
Alaee added that, "we cannot leave aside negotiations, whether at the apex of power or in a position of weakness."

Addressing concerns of war breaking out, Alaee said that both sides are capable of conducting an armed conflict, but that "the possibility of war breaking out is at its minimum," according to Radio Farda.

He added that both countries are trying to avoid war, but considering the situation in the region, the danger of “an incident leading to limited war should not be ignored.”

In June, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the US wanted to enter negotiations with Iran.

"We're prepared to negotiate with no preconditions," said Pompeo. "They know precisely how to find us. I am confident that at the very moment they're ready to truly engage with us, we'll be able to begin these conversations. I'm looking forward to that day."

Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi responded, "the Islamic Republic of Iran does not pay attention to word play and expression of a hidden agenda in new forms."

Trump said in May that he was hopeful Iran would come to the negotiating table.

Negotiations are "not very likely because talking is the continuation of the process of pressure. He is imposing pressure," said Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in response. "This may work in the real estate market; it does not work in dealing with Iran."

Iran's Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani addressed US-Iran tensions as well in a speech on Tuesday at an event commemorating the 31st anniversary of the US downing of an Iranian passenger plane, Iran's IRNA news agency reported.

"Just analyze the recent behavior [of the US] toward Iran: first, they had the audacity to call Iran a terrorist nation; then, they imposed the most severe sanctions – and now they say a military option is also on the table," said Larijani.

He added that the US "even contacted some insignificant countries in the region to form a coalition against Iran. But they failed, because those countries are our neighbors, and they know if they rally against us, they will have to pay the price for it.

"Trump needs to know that as long as he speaks the language of coercion with a civilized nation, they will only grow closer and more unified. If the US just gets this, many of their problems will be solved," Larijani added, according to IRNA.

Addressing US claims of Iranian nuclear weapon aspirations, Larijani said that "Iran has announced that it does not seek nuclear weapons. Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has banned the use of nuclear weapons. I doubt that the US will ever understand this, though."

Reuters contributed to this report.

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