WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump’s top security adviser has urged Iran to take up an offer of talks with the United States or suffer more pain from economic sanctions, but Iran’s president said Washington needed first to prove it can be trusted.
Hours before revived US sanctions were due to kick in, White House national security adviser John Bolton said Iran should pay heed to Mr Trump’s willingness to negotiate.
“They could take up the president’s offer to negotiate with them, to give up their ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programmes fully and really verifiably,” Mr Bolton told Fox News.
So-called snapback sanctions, due to come into force early yesterday, target Iranian purchases of US dollars, metals trading, coal, industrial software and its auto sector.
Foes for decades, the United States and Iran have been increasingly at odds over Iran’s growing political and military influence in the Middle East since Mr Trump took office in January 2017.
The renewed sanctions were among those lifted under a 2015 deal between world powers and Tehran on curbing Iran’s nuclear program. Mr Trump abandoned the deal in May. Heavier US sanctions, aimed at Iran’s oil sector, are due in November.
President Hassan Rouhani on Monday said Iran could hold talks with the United States only if Washington proved its trustworthiness.
Mr Rouhani implied that if the United States signed up again to the nuclear deal and lifted sanctions, then that could pave the ground for negotiations.
Mr Trump pulled the US out of the nuclear deal, saying it fails to address Iran’s ballistic missile programme, the terms by which inspectors visit suspect Iranian nuclear sites, and “sunset” clauses under which some of its terms expire. Mr Trump plans to reintroduce more damaging sanctions on Iranian oil in November.
The sanctions aim to modify Iran’s behaviour and not bring about a “regime change” targeting Mr Rouhani, US officials said on a conference call on Monday.