Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign secretary. (Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg)

Iran’s Zarif Tells Trump to ‘Try Respect’ Instead of Threats, Sanctions

(Bloomberg) -- Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif pushed back on U.S. President Donald Trump’s suggestion that he’d be willing to meet President Hassan Rouhani with “no preconditions,” saying the two countries spent plenty of time in negotiations already.

“Iran and US had 2 yrs of talks,” Zarif wrote on Twitter on Tuesday. “With EU/E3+Russia+China, we produced a unique multilateral accord—the JCPOA,” he added, referencing the 2015 accord that eased some economic sanctions in exchange for restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program.

Trump withdrew the U.S. from the deal in May, saying it didn’t address the Islamic Republic’s malign behavior in the Middle East and would eventually allow Iran to resume enrichment activities. The move was broadly criticized internationally, including by U.S. allies France, Germany and the U.K.

Now the U.S. is preparing to sanction countries whose companies continue to import Iranian oil. And in a sign of the escalating rhetoric between Washington and Tehran, the president said on Twitter last week that the U.S. won’t tolerate Iran’s “DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH,” a reference to comments that Iran’s leader made to Trump.

The nuclear deal has “been working,” Zarif wrote. “US can only blame itself for pulling out & leaving the table. Threats, sanctions & PR stunts won’t work. Try respect: for Iranians & for int’l commitments.”

Despite the rising tensions, the administration on Monday sent mixed signals on its openness to high-level talks with Iran. Trump told reporters at the White House that “I would certainly meet with Iran if they wanted to meet.” Hours later, administration officials appeared to walk that statement back, suggesting there actually are preconditions.

“If the Iranians demonstrate a commitment to make fundamental changes in how they treat their own people, reduce their malign behavior, can agree that it’s worthwhile to enter into a nuclear agreement that actually prevents proliferation, then the president said he’s prepared to sit down and have the conversation with them,” Pompeo said.

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