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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Door open to diplomacy if Trump lifts sanctions on Iran: Zarif

ISNA - Iranian Students' News Agency

Tue / 16 July 2019 / 14:22

Tehran (ISNA) - Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iran does not want a war with the U.S. but said President Donald Trump must lift harsh economic sanctions on Tehran to clear the way for negotiations.

In an interview with NBC Nightly News' Lester Holt, Zarif said the door is "wide open" to diplomacy if Trump removes the array of sanctions he has imposed since 2017 that have slashed the country's oil exports and damaged its economy.

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

The Iranian top diplomat said, "U.S. has deprived itself from Iran's market. The market is open to U.S. companies".

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.

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

President Donald Trump last year pulled the U.S. out of the agreement.

Zarif said Iran had no interest in securing a nuclear arsenal, though it could have built the bomb if it wanted to.

"Had we been interested in developing nuclear weapons, we would have been able to do it long time ago," 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 violate certain limits in 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 U.S. 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."

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