Iran silence on US talks offer ‘deafening,’ Bolton says

MOSCOW: The US drone shot down by Tehran last week was in Iranian airspace, the head of Russia’s Security Council said yesterday, despite US claims to the contrary. “I have information from the defense ministry of the Russian Federation that this drone was in Iranian airspace,” Russian news agencies quoted Nikolai Patrushev as telling reporters in Jerusalem.


Patrushev was in Jerusalem for talks with US and Israeli officials, as tensions run high after Iran shot down the US spy drone on June 19 and US President Donald Trump considered, then cancelled, a retaliatory strike. Iran insists the drone violated Iranian airspace near the Strait of Hormuz, but the Pentagon denies it entered Iranian territory.


Iran silence ‘deafening’
Meanwhile, US National Security Advisor John Bolton yesterday described as “deafening” Iran’s apparent silence on an offer to negotiate with Washington. “The president has held the door open to real negotiations,” Bolton told journalists in Jerusalem. “In response, Iran’s silence has been deafening,” he added. Bolton is in Jerusalem for what Israel described as unprecedented talks with his Russian and Israeli counterparts, along with meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Speaking alongside the US advisor, Netanyahu said there was “a wider basis for cooperation between the three of us than many believe.” Bolton’s comments come a day after the United States imposed sanctions on top officials of Israel’s archfoe Iran. The measures against supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and others have led to a “permanent closure of the path to diplomacy” according to Iran’s foreign ministry.


Tensions are running high after Iran shot down a US spy drone last week and Trump considered, then cancelled, a retaliatory strike. Bolton said Tehran has carried out “attacks upon American personnel and assets in the Middle East” and accused the Islamic republic of seeking nuclear weapons. Tehran denies it is seeking nuclear weapons and says its program is for civilian use only.
But more than a year after Washington pulled out of a landmark deal between Tehran and world powers, which sought to limit Iran’s nuclear activities, Bolton said the US remains open to negotiations. “All that Iran needs to do is to walk though that open door,” he said. Iran’s president said Washington’s decision to impose sanctions on its top diplomat and other senior officials proved the US was “lying” about talks. “At the same time as you call for negotiations you seek to sanction the foreign minister? It’s obvious that you’re lying,” President Hassan Rouhani said in a meeting with ministers broadcast live on TV.

Iranians mock Trump
In another development, US President Donald Trump was mocked by Iranians yesterday after mixing up the country’s current supreme leader with his predecessor who died 30 years ago. “The assets of Ayatollah Khomeini and his office will not be spared by these sanctions,” Trump said Monday as he announced new measures against Iran’s supreme leader and top officials. But the Islamic republic’s founder and revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini died in 1989, and the country has since been led by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.


“Trump doesn’t know that Ayatollah Khomeini has passed away and that Ayatollah Khamenei is the leader of Iran,” tweeted Sara Masoumi, diplomatic correspondent for the reformist daily Etemad. “Has this narcissist been waiting for (a dead man) to call him?” wrote another Twitter user, after Trump last month said he would like Iran to phone him. One social media user suggested “Trump took revenge” for Khamenei reportedly mispronouncing the president’s name as Ronald. But one Twitter user suggested there was a plot in the White House to make the US president “look like a lunatic!”- Agencies