Trump’s gamble with Iran negotiation: Reactions, speculations

August 2, The Iran Project – US President Donald Trump’s comments about wanting to open a new dialogue without any precondition with Tehran have drawn various reactions with either caution or doubt.

On Monday (July 30), Donald Trump at a  joint news conference with Italian premier said that he is willing to meet with Iran’s leadership with “no preconditions”, exactly one week after Trump threatened the Iranian president in an all-caps post on Twitter that called out the Iranian leader by name.

Trump asserted that he would “certainly meet” with Iranians with “no preconditions,” adding that “It’s good for the country, good for them, good for us and good for the world. No preconditions. If they want to meet, I’ll meet.”

However, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appeared on CNBC just hours later to set some conditions.

“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,” said the former CIA chief.

Meanwhile, in a briefing on Tuesday (July 31), State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert denied that Pompeo statement meant he and Trump were not on the same page with regards to a meeting with the Iranian leadership.

“I think the President and Secretary of State both said we would be prepared to sit down,” Nauert stated.

Also on Wednesday (August 1), rump told a rally in Tampa, Florida, “I have a feeling they’ll be talking to us pretty soon,” adding that  “And maybe not, and that’s OK too.”

Iranians show mixed reactions 

Trump’s offer received mixed reactions in the Islamic Republic with some arguing for the need for direct communications between the two arch-foes and others expressing pessimism the US is honest in its request for talks.

On Tuesday  (July 31), Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani responded to Trump’s remarks saying, “The Islamic Republic of Iran is always ready to develop relations with European countries, and now, after the US’ illegal withdrawal from the JCPOA, the ball is in Europe’s court in the limited time remaining.”

Rouhani stressed that his country “has never sought tensions in the region and does not want any problem to happen for world’s waterways,” but he indicated that Iran “will never let go of its rights to export oil.”

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the US should blame itself for ending talks with Iran when it left the nuclear deal.

“Iran & US had 2 yrs of talks. With EU/E3+Russia+China, we produced a unique multilateral accord—the JCPOA. It’s been working. 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,” wrote Zarif on his Twitter page.

Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said “The United States is not trustworthy. How can we trust this country when it withdraws unilaterally from the nuclear deal?”

In a message, IRGC Chief Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari dismissed the US president’s proposal and said those at the helm of the US “Black House” will not live to see their wish of meeting with Iranian authorities fulfilled.

Speaking to reporters in his weekly news conference, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said it is impossible to engage in talks with the US under the current administration which has adopted a fiercely hostile policy toward the Islamic Republic.

In a post on his Twitter, an adviser to President Rouhani Hamid Aboutalebi said “Respecting the Iranian nation’s rights, reducing hostilities and returning to the nuclear deal are steps that can be taken to pave the bumpy road of talks between Iran and America.”

Ali Motahari, a senior Iranian lawmaker, said “It is not a good time for Iran to negotiate with the United State,” stressing that “If Trump had not withdrawn from (Iran’s) nuclear deal (with world powers) and had not imposed sanctions on Iran, there would be no problem with negotiations with America.”

Ali Akbar Nategh Nouri, a member of the Expediency Council, said Iran should not without preamble reject US President Trump’s comments, reiterating that the request should be discussed at the Supreme National Security Council first.

Head of Iran’s Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, Kamal Kharazi, said that “Based on our bad experiences in negotiations with America and based on the U.S. officials’ violation of their commitments, it is natural that we see no value in Trump’s proposal.”

Hesamodin Ashna, an advisor to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, wrote in a tweet, “It seems that @JZarif believes US’ pulling out and leaving the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is at odds with US President Donald Trump’s claim for holding negotiation with Iranian officials without preconditions. Washington, with reimposing sanctions against Iran, has begun an economic war against us. Stop the war and then call for dialogue. Without preconditions means without imposing sanctions.”

Ataollah Mohajerani, a former culture minister and a pro-reform analyst who now lives in London, wrote in a tweet that President Rouhani must hold the meeting with his American counterpart Donald Trump in Tehran on the anniversary of the 1953 coup orchestrated by the CIA to topple Iran’s democratically-elected government.

“Trump must prove he is trustworthy”

It can be said that all Iranian officials agree on one point and this is US “untrustworthiness”. They all urge Trump to prove that he is trustworthy by returning to the Iran nuclear deal.

They do believe that negotiation has basic requirements and conditions that haven’t been seen in Trump’s words and behaviors.

On May 8, US president pulled the United States out of an international nuclear deal known as the JCPOA (abbreviation for Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) with Tehran and announced his intention to impose the strictest regime of sanctions on the country.

Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China plus Germany – signed the JCPOA on July 14, 2015 and started implementing it on January 16, 2016.

Final answer

It is worth mentioning that Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, who has final saying on all state’s matters, has not had any reaction to Trump’s dialogue offer yet. Now all eyes are on Ayatollah Khamenei to give final answer.