Zarif: US must honor nuclear deal if it wants talks

Channel 13: Netanyahu tried to scuttle a Trump-Iranian meeting

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks at "Common Security in the Islamic World" forum in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia August 29, 2019 (photo credit: REUTERS/LAI SENG SIN)
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks at "Common Security in the Islamic World" forum in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia August 29, 2019
(photo credit: REUTERS/LAI SENG SIN)
Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the United States must observe the 2015 nuclear deal and stop engaging in “economic terrorism” against the Iranian people if Washington wants to meet for talks.
“The United States is engaged in an economic war against the Iranian people, and it won’t be possible for us to engage with the United States unless they stop imposing a war and engaging in economic terrorism against the Iranian people,” Zarif told reporters in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, after addressing a forum on security in the Islamic world. “So if they want to come back into the room, there is a ticket that they need to purchase and that ticket is to observe the agreement,” referring to the 2015 nuclear deal formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Zarif said Iran does not want to meet for the sake of meeting. “We need to meet if there is a result,” he said.
US President Donald Trump said this week that he would meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani under the right circumstances to end the confrontation over the 2015 deal, and that talks were under way to see how countries could open credit lines to keep Iran’s economy afloat.
Rouhani has said Iran would not talk to the United States until all sanctions were lifted.
Zarif paid an unexpected visit to the Group of Seven summit (G-7) in France over the weekend, holding talks on the sidelines of the meeting with French officials.
French President Emmanuel Macron opened an avenue toward a diplomatic solution to the US-Iran standoff at the summit, saying that Iranian President Rouhani had told him he was open to a meeting with Trump.
Channel 13 and the Internet news site Axios reported on Thursday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had tried to reach Trump at the G-7 in order to prevent him from meeting Zarif. But Trump was busy and never took the call.
Tensions between Tehran and Washington have risen since Trump quit the JCPOA last year to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions and began to ratchet up sanctions. Iran, which has slowly been breaching the nuclear deal in retaliation for US sanctions, has threatened further violations in early September unless it receives sanctions relief.
Separately, the Iranian tanker Adrian Darya, at the center of a dispute between Washington and Tehran, has changed course away from the Turkish coast, Refinitiv ship tracking data showed on Thursday.
The tanker, formerly called Grace 1, was released from detention off Gibraltar in mid-August after a five-week standoff over whether it was carrying Iranian oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions.
In his conversation with reporters in Kuala Lumpur, Zarif said Iran will fast track legal action against a British oil tanker that Tehran seized last month in the Strait of Hormuz.
“We will expedite the legal process for the British tanker that is now in our custody after they basically committed sea crimes by taking our ship,” he said, adding that Iran will not be lenient about ships in the Persian Gulf that violate laws.
The UK-flagged Stena Impero was diverted to an Iranian port on July 19, two weeks after Britain detained an Iranian tanker off the territory of Gibraltar.
Washington has called on its allies to join an operation to guard shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, a vital gateway for the world’s oil industry. So far, Britain, Australia and Bahrain have joined the US-led security mission.
Washington’s call followed a series of attacks on international merchant vessels, which the United States has blamed on Iran, and the Iranian seizure of a British oil tanker.
Tehran has denied accusations that it was behind attacks on six tankers in May and June.
“We have been lenient about ships in the Persian Gulf,” Zarif said. “They break laws about communication about sea lanes, about discharge of waste. Now there is no reason to be lenient with those who violate international laws.”