‘Removal of moustache person from the White House means little’

TEHRAN: President Hassan Rouhani said yesterday that the United States’ “warmongering” was a failure, as Iran welcomed the sacking of hawkish US national security adviser John Bolton. Rouhani also dismissed the prospect of a meeting with President Donald Trump at a time his US administration is continuing to slap more crippling sanctions on the Islamic republic.


“The Americans must understand that bellicosity and warmongering don’t work in their favor. Both… must be abandoned,” Rouhani told a meeting of his cabinet, according to the government’s Twitter account. “The enemy imposed ‘maximum pressure’ on us. Our response is to resist and confront this,” he said, referring to the US campaign of economic sanctions.


Arch-foes Tehran and Washington have been at loggerheads since May last year when Trump unilaterally withdrew from a 2015 nuclear deal and began reimposing the punitive measures. Iran has riposted by scaling back its commitments to the landmark accord, which gave it the promise of relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its atomic program. On Tuesday, Trump announced his decision to dismiss Bolton. It was a move an adviser to Iran’s president, Hesameddin Ashena, hailed as a “clear sign of the defeat of America’s maximum pressure strategy” against Tehran.

JORDAN VALLEY: In this file photo, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then-US National Security Advisor John Bolton (right) visit an old army outpost overlooking the Jordan Valley between the Israeli city of Beit Shean and the West Bank city of Jericho. -—AFP


‘Commitment for commitment’
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin stressed the US would maintain the strategy. But they added that Trump was willing to meet Rouhani without preconditions. The idea of a Trump-Rouhani meeting was floated last month by French President Emmanuel Macron, who has been spearheading European efforts to de-escalate tensions. Rouhani said in response that Iran was ready to comply with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action only if the Americans did so too. “We have said many times that our policy… is one of peaceful (nuclear) technology, and that our approach in the JCPOA is commitment for commitment,” he said.


“We have taken the third step… If it is essential and necessary in the future, we will take other steps.” Iran said on Saturday it was firing up advanced centrifuges to enrich uranium at a faster rate-its third step back from the 2015 nuclear deal. It had announced on July 1 that its stockpile of enriched uranium had increased to beyond the deal’s 300-kilogram threshold, and a week later that it had exceeded a 3.67-percent cap on the purity of its stocks.


‘Moustache removal’
Iran’s UN representative Majid Takht-Ravanchi poured cold water on any talk of a Trump-Rouhani meeting. The envoy said a meeting could take place only if Washington ended its “economic terrorism” and that it would have to be held in the framework of the group of major powers that negotiated the nuclear deal. “As long as the US government’s economic terrorism and such cruel sanctions are imposed on the Iranian people, there is no room for negotiations,” he was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.


The diplomat said Trump’s decision to dismiss Bolton-a hardliner accused of pushing Trump towards war against Iran-was a matter for the Americans. “The removal of John Bolton is an internal affair and we don’t take stands on domestic issues,” Takht-Ravanchi said. Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif suggested little would change with Bolton’s removal. “As the world… was breathing a sigh of relief” over his ouster “Pompeo and Mnuchin declared further escalation of #EconomicTerrorism against Iran,” he tweeted.


“Thirst for war-maximum pressure-should go with the warmonger-in-chief,” he said, referring to Trump. One analyst cast doubt yesterday on speculation that Bolton’s removal could boost the chances of a meeting happening at the UN General Assembly later this month. “Such a meeting will not take place. The removal of a moustache person from the White House means little,” tweeted Mohammad Marandi, head of the American studies department at Tehran University.- AFP