US Rejects Iranian FM Proposal on Lifting Sanctions Permanently
The US State Department hosted Tuesday a diplomatic consultancy meeting behind closed doors to discuss maritime navigation security to deter threats in the region.
Meanwhile, Washington rejected offer of Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif to formally and permanently accept enhanced inspections of Iran’s nuclear program, in return for the permanent lifting of US sanctions.
State Department officials said the ideas put forward by the US administration on securing navigation were welcomed by several countries that had shown interest in securing vessels.
Pentagon officials stressed that the United States does not want to establish a military alliance but to deter any attempt to launch attacks on commercial vessels.
They noted that the initiative put forward by the administration relates to providing coordination and control vessels and coordinate patrols in the Arabian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz and Bab al-Mandeb.
According to a number of the diplomats participating in the meeting, some countries have expressed concern about the escalations with Iran. They are also worried about the additional cost of securing vessels passing through Hormuz.
This came after Bahrain confirmed hosting an international summit this fall on regional maritime and aviation threats posed by Iran.
Meanwhile, the New York Times quoted Zarif as telling reporters that his country was ready to negotiate “sunset provisions” in the nuclear deal.
This statement comes unlike previous positions echoed by several Iranian officials since President Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal last year over Tehran's refusal to renegotiate the deal.
Zarif said in another interview that his country will not renegotiate its 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers, rejecting the possibility of a new deal with the US that includes Iran's missile program.
“You don't buy a horse twice,” said Zarif when asked about the possibility of fresh talks with the US over a new comprehensive deal that includes nuclear energy and missile programs.
An official source at the White House rejected Friday Zarif’s offer, pointing out that the FM does not have the authority to suggest such offer.
He noted that any negotiations offer should come from the Religious Leader Ali Khamenei, adding that Washington will not take anything that he says seriously.
The US official said Trump was still open to negotiations with Iran without preconditions on its nuclear program, but would keep tough economic sanctions on it until then.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that sanctions will only be lifted “once Iran gives up its nuclear ambitions.”
Trump spoke Friday with French leader Emmanuel Macron on the ongoing situation in Tehran.
The two leaders “discussed ongoing efforts to ensure Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapon,” the White House said in a brief readout of the call.
Trump said Friday Sen. Rand Paul is involved in diplomatic talks with Iran.
A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, noted that Iran is trying to circumvent and play on words in an attempt to obtain any easing of sanctions while continuing to maintain the ability to acquire a nuclear weapon in the future.
Based on Zarif's offer, Iran will continue to enrich uranium, produce materials for the manufacture of nuclear weapons, and will continue to support terrorism through its agents in the region, said the official.
He pointed out that Zarif put forward this idea and he knows that Washington will reject the offer.
Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (NSA) John Bolton asserted the need to continue the strategy of pressure against Iran, and said through his account on Twitter that one of the worst mistakes of the Iran deal was allowing Iran to maintain enrichment capabilities.
“There should be no enrichment for Iran. Maximum pressure continues until Iran abandons its nuclear ambitions and malign activities.”
US administration insists on pushing Iran to accept tougher restrictions on its nuclear capabilities, limit the ballistic missile program and put an end to Tehran's support of its proxies in the region.