New US sanctions show offer of talks not genuine: Iran

GENEVA • Additional sanctions imposed on Iran by the United States show that Washington's offer of talks is not genuine, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said yesterday.

The US placed sanctions on Iran's largest petrochemical holding group on Friday for indirectly supporting the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a step it said aimed to dry up revenues to the elite Iranian military force but that analysts called largely symbolic.

US President Donald Trump said earlier this month that he would be willing to talk to the Islamic Republic.

"It was only necessary to wait one week until the claim of the President of America about talks with Iran were proved to be hollow," Mr Mousavi said in a statement. "The American policy of maximum pressure is a defeated policy."

Tensions have risen between Iran and the US in recent weeks after Washington sent more military forces to the Middle East, including an aircraft carrier, B-52 bombers and Patriot missiles, in a show of force against what US officials call Iranian threats to US troops and interests in the region.

Iranian Defence Minister Amir Hatami noted the presence of American warships in the region yesterday and said that the Islamic Republic's enemies are afraid of conflict because of the country's advanced offensive and defensive power, according to the Iranian Students' News Agency.

"They are afraid of any kind of war or possible conflict with Iran," he said, also noting that US offers of talks without preconditions are false.

The United States has said it aims to intensify economic and military pressure on Iran because of its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes as well as its support for proxy groups in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.

Mr Trump antagonised Iran, and dismayed key US allies, last year when he exited a 2015 deal between Teheran and world powers under which the Iranians curbed their nuclear programme in return for an easing of most international sanctions.

The US leader denounced the deal, signed before he took office, as flawed and he reimposed tough financial sanctions on Iran that were subsequently extended to its crucial oil exports.

He said on Thursday that Iran was failing as a nation, under the pressure of his sanctions, and repeated his call for talks with the leadership in Teheran.

Mr Mousavi dismissed Mr Trump's comments as "repetitive, groundless and paradoxical" and said they did not merit a response.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 09, 2019, with the headline 'New US sanctions show offer of talks not genuine: Iran'. Print Edition | Subscribe