Hawks around Trump won’t succeed in selling war: Zarif

TEHRAN, Jul. 16 (MNA) – Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in an interview with NBC that hawks around US President Donald Trump will not succeed in pushing Trump to launch a military attack against Iran.

In an interview with NBC Nightly News’ Lester Holt on Monday, Zarif said the door is "wide open" to diplomacy if Trump removes the array of sanctions he has imposed since 2017 that have affected the country's trade and banking relations with other countries.

"Once those sanctions are lifted, then ... the room for negotiation is wide open," Zarif said during a visit to New York for a UN conference on sustainable development.

Zarif said it was the United States, not Iran, that had undermined diplomacy by walking away from the 2015 nuclear agreement between Tehran and world powers.

Washington left the agreement -- officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) -- that had been struck under the previous American administration last May. It then returned the nuclear-related sanctions that had been lifted by the deal.

"It is the United States that left the bargaining table. And they're always welcome to return," Zarif said.

Zarif said he did not think the two countries were on the verge of war, saying neither his government nor Trump was seeking armed conflict.

"I do not believe that President Trump wants war. But I believe that people are around him who wouldn't mind," Zarif said.

He added, "But I don't think they'll succeed because at the end of the day, I think prudence will prevail. People know that Iran is a big, proud country. And we will not take a military attack lightly."

Zarif said Iran has acted with restraint and waited for about a year before it started to reduce some commitments to the nuclear agreement, which he said was allowed under the terms of the deal. But he said the Trump administration had abruptly pulled out of a deal that the US had negotiated and signed.

"I think the United States is playing with fire," Zarif said.

Asked if there was a face-saving offer that Iran would accept from Washington, Zarif said, "I think in any negotiations, you need to find a win/win situation. Otherwise, you'll end up with a lose/lose situation."

Zarif finally repeated Iran’s rejection of nuclear weapons as decreed by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, adding "Had we been interested in developing nuclear weapons, we would have been able to do it long time ago."

MNA/PR

News Code 147685

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