‘US pursuing maximum pressure against Iran despite Bolton removal: Mnuchin

Press TV – US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says Washington will press ahead with its campaign of “maximum pressure” against Iran, even after President Donald Trump announced that he had fired National Security Adviser John Bolton, seen as the architect of the White House’s hard-line policy toward the Islamic Republic.

Speaking in an interview with American television business news network CNBC on Thursday, Mnuchin also said that there is no current plan for Trump to hold a meeting with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani at the United Nations General Assembly in New York later this month. Mnuchin, however, said the US president is open to meeting with Rouhani with no preconditions.

He added that the remaining members of Trump’s national security team are “executing on a maximum pressure strategy against Iran.”

On September 10, Trump fired Bolton, saying he has “disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions.”

“I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House. I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration, and therefore I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning,” Trump said in a tweet.

I thank John very much for his service. I will be naming a new National Security Advisor next week,” Trump continued.

Rouhani at a cabinet meeting in Tehran on Wednesday slammed the “maximum pressure” campaign that the US has unleashed against Iran ever since it abandoned the 2015 nuclear accord, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“While the enemy is exerting maximum pressure [on Iran], our path is withstanding and resistance,” said Rouhani, adding that the US would better stop the belligerent pressure campaign and set aside “warmongering” and “warmongers.”

The Americans must understand that they will not benefit from bellicosity and warmongering. [Such policies] must be abandoned,” the Iranian president noted.

In response to US’s actions, Iran has taken countermeasures, scaling back some of limits set by the JCPOA.

Iran has so far rowed back on its nuclear commitments three times in compliance with articles 26 and 36 of the nuclear deal.

As a third and final step in its reduction of commitments, Iran said on September 7 it had activated 20 IR-4 and 20 IR-6 centrifuges for research and development purposes after the Europeans failed to work within a 60-day deadline to meet Iran’s demands and fulfill their commitments under the multilateral deal.

Iran says its retaliatory measures will be reversible as soon as Europe finds practical ways to shield the mutual trade from the US sanctions, which were re-imposed last year when Trump withdrew from the JCPOA.

Trump says Iranians ‘want to meet’

Also on Thursday, the US president claimed that he believes that Iranian authorities want a meeting with him.

“I can tell you that Iran wants to meet,” he told reporters at the White House.

The allegation came only a day after Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations Majid Takht Ravanchi ruled out the possibility of negotiations with the United States as long as Washington sticks to its policy of “economic terrorism” and sanctions against the Iranian nation.

Takht Ravanchi said Iran has repeatedly declared that “there is no room for talks as long as the US administration’s economic terrorism and cruel sanctions against the Iranian people are in place.”

The Iranian diplomat further highlighted that “The topic could be discussed only when they (the Americans) lift the sanctions,” and that any such talks would be possible within the framework of the P5+1 group of states — comprising the US, the UK, France, China, and Russia plus Germany — which successfully negotiated and clinched the JCPOA.