Iran’s Rouhani says no talks with US unless sanctions lifted

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the US sanctions are unfair. (File/AFP)
Updated 27 August 2019

Iran’s Rouhani says no talks with US unless sanctions lifted

  • Iran’s president said they never wanted nuclear weapons
  • The country will continue to decrease their commitments to the nuclear deal if their interests are not guaranteed

DUBAI: Iran will not talk to the United States until all sanctions imposed on Tehran are lifted, President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday, a day after President Donald Trump said he would meet his Iranian counterpart to try to end a nuclear standoff.

Trump said on Monday he would meet Iran’s president under the right circumstances to end a confrontation that began when Washington pulled out of Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with six powers and reimposed sanctions on the country. Trump also said talks were under way to see how countries could open credit lines to keep Iran’s economy afloat.

Rouhani said Iran was always ready to hold talks. “But first the US should act by lifting all illegal, unjust and unfair sanctions imposed on Iran,” he said in a speech broadcast live on state TV.

Speaking at a G7 summit in the French resort of Biarritz, Trump ruled out lifting economic sanctions to compensate for losses suffered by Iran.

“Washington has the key for positive change ... So take the first step ... Without this step, this lock will not be unlocked,” Rouhani said.

European parties to the deal have struggled to calm the deepening confrontation between Iran and the United States since Trump pulled Washington out last year.

French President Emmanuel Macron has led efforts to defuse tensions and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif flew in to the Biarritz G7 meeting unexpectedly on Sunday for side talks with French officials.

Since ditching the deal last year, Trump has pursued a policy of “maximum pressure” to try to force Iran into broader talks to restrict its ballistic missile program and end its support for proxy forces around the Middle East.

“Iran does not seek tension with the world. We want security in the Middle East. We want better and friendly ties with other countries,” said Rouhani.

Scaling back commitments

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.

“We will continue to scale back our commitments under the 2015 deal if our interests are not guaranteed,” said Rouhani.

The 2015 deal between Iran and six world powers, reached under former US President Barack Obama, aimed to curb Iran’s disputed uranium enrichment program in exchange for the lifting of many international sanctions on Tehran.

Iran has ruled out talks with Washington over its military capabilities, particularly its ballistic missile program that it says is defensive. It denies the missiles are capable of being tipped with nuclear warheads and says its nuclear program is peaceful.

Rouhani said seeking nuclear bomb weapons was banned under a fatwa issued by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, referring to a religious decree issued in the early 2000s by Iran’s top authority that bans the development or use of nuclear weapons.

“We have never wanted nuclear weapons because of our supreme leader’s fatwa,” said Rouhani.

Trump and Rouhani are both due to attend the United Nations General Assembly in September. However, any meeting between Trump and Rouhani would have to be approved by Iran’s utmost authority Khamenei, who has the last say on all state matters.

Nine suspected militants killed in Egypt: ministry

Updated 41 min 54 sec ago

Nine suspected militants killed in Egypt: ministry

  • Police raids in Cairo targeted hideouts of “terrorist elements”
  • Those killed included “a commander of the Liwa Al-Thawra” extremist group

CAIRO: Nine suspected extremists including a commander have been killed in shootouts with police in suburbs of the Egyptian capital, the interior ministry said Wednesday.
Police raids to the east and south of Cairo targeted hideouts of “terrorist elements,” it said in a statement.
Those killed included “a commander of the Liwa Al-Thawra” extremist group, it added.
The Liwa Al-Thawra movement appeared in 2016 and has since claimed deadly attacks against the police and the Egyptian army.
Almost nine years after the 2011 uprising that toppled president Hosni Mubarak, security remains a chief concern in Egypt.
Hundreds of security personnel have died in an escalation of attacks since the military overthrow of Islamist president Muhammad Mursi in 2013.
That ouster was led by then army chief Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, who became president after 2014 polls and secured re-election last year with an official 97 percent of the vote.
In February 2018, the army launched a nationwide offensive against extremists, focused mainly on North Sinai, where the Daesh extremist group has a significant presence.
The authorities say some 650 suspected extremists and around 50 soldiers have been killed since.