The U.S. “maximum pressure” policy aimed at isolating Iran will not work, but the regime would be willing to negotiate if the Trump administration returns to the Iranian nuclear deal and drops economic sanctions, President Hassan Rouhani said Sunday.
“Of course, sanctions naturally create some problems, but they will not yield any results for the enemies,” Rouhani told state media Sunday. “Maximum pressure has failed. We are in a better situation in the region now.”
Rouhani said he doesn’t think Trump wants a war with Iran because it would “ruin” his reelection chances.
In a rare bipartisan effort to curb Trump’s powers, eight Senate Republicans aligned with Democrats last week to support legislation that would restrict the president’s ability to wage war with Iran. The measure, which goes to the House, reflected lawmakers’ concerns that U.S. tensions with Iran could escalate into a full-fledged war.
“I think the Americans aren’t after war since they know what harm it could do them,” Rouhani said.
Talks could take place if the U.S. drops the crippling sanctions and complies with the commitments of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action negotiated by the Obama administration between Iran and global powers, Rouhani said. Trump repeatedly railed against the deal on the election trail and, as president, pulled the U.S. out.
U.S.-Iranian relations have grown steadily more tense, culminating in a U.S. drone strike that killed Iran’s most powerful military leader last month. Iran responded with airstrikes blamed for brain injuries to more than 100 U.S. soldiers.
Trump has, however, repeatedly expressed interest in holding talks with Iran. The State Department did not immediately respond to USA TODAY’s request for comment on Rouhani’s statements.
Rouhani said Iran was forced to scale back its commitments to the nuclear deal after other parties to the agreement had to curb their involvement following the U.S. withdrawal. Thus, he said, Iran had to scale back its commitments.
Rouhani expressed little interest in the U.S. elections, saying there is no difference for Iran between the Democrats and Republicans. Tehran, he said, cares only about its national interests.
“We will never sit at the negotiating table with a weak position,” Rouhani said.
Contributing: The Associated Press