Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said Sunday that the U.S.’s “maximum pressure” policy aimed at isolating Iran has “failed,” and he claimed President Trump doesn’t want a war with Iran because it would “ruin” his reelection chances.
Rouhani said the regime would be willing to negotiate with the Trump administration if the U.S. were to reinstate the Iranian nuclear deal — negotiated by the Obama administration — and drop crippling economic sanctions, USA Today reported.
Last week, eight Senate Republicans sided with Democrats to support legislation restricting Trump’s ability to wage war with Iran in a rare bipartisan effort.
“Of course, sanctions naturally create some problems, but they will not yield any results for the enemies. Maximum pressure has failed. We are in a better situation in the region now.”
The measure, which headed to the House, reflected lawmakers’ concerns that U.S. tensions with Iran could escalate into a full-fledged war.
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“I think the Americans aren’t after war since they know what harm it could do them,” the Iranian leader said.
Talks could take place if the U.S. were to scrap damaging economic sanctions and reinstate commitments made in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action negotiated by the Obama administration between Iran and global powers, Rouhani said. Trump repeatedly railed against the deal on the election trail and, as president, pulled the U.S. out of the agreement, which saw Iran giving up nuclear capabilities for relief from previously imposed economic sanctions, USA Today reported.
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U.S.-Iranian relations have been strained, culminating in the early-January U.S. drone strike that killed Iran’s shadowy general, Qassem Soleimani. Iran responded with airstrikes on Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops which left more than 100 of those soldiers with brain injuries.
Trump, however, repeatedly has expressed interest in holding talks with Iran, the report said. The State Department did not immediately respond to the newspaper’s request for comment on Rouhani’s statements.
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Asked about whom he favored in November’s U.S. elections, Rouhani expressed little interest, saying there was no difference for Iran between the Democrats and Republicans. Tehran, he said, cared only about its national interests.
“We will never sit at the negotiating table with a weak position,” Rouhani said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.