Moments after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Iran was open to discussing its missile program and President Trump touted “progress” being made in the escalating crisis, the Islamic Republic contradicted both men.
At a meeting of Trump’s Cabinet at the White House on Tuesday, Pompeo said for the first time, “the Iranians said they are ready to negotiate on their missile program.”
“We’ll see what happens. But a lot of progress has been made,” Trump responded.
But Iran’s mission to the United States quickly denied any diplomatic breakthrough was at hand.
”Iran’s missiles … are absolutely and under no condition negotiable with anyone or any country, period,” it said on Twitter.
The development came hours after Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei said Tehran will continue to pull back from its commitments in the 2015 nuclear deal because the European powers that remain in the pact have been shirking their obligations.
“According to our foreign minister, Europe made 11 commitments, none of which they abided by. We abided by our commitments and even beyond them,” Khamenei said in remarks broadcast by state television. “Now that we’ve begun to reduce our commitments, they oppose it. How insolent! You didn’t abide by your commitments!”
“We have started to reduce our commitments and this trend shall continue,”he continued.
Trump withdrew the US from the deal last year that removed sanctions in return for Tehran reducing its enrichment of uranium, but he then reimposed the penalties.
He went a step further last month when he slapped sanctions on Khamenei and his office.
The European powers – Britain, France, Germany, the European Union, Russia and China – announced Monday they would continue to engage in talks with Iran after it twice breached the agreement but did not take any action to protect the Islamic Republic from the sanctions.
The country in the past few weeks surpassed enriching uranium and stockpiling the material beyond limits set in the deal brokered by former President Obama.
Khamenei’s comments come a day after Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif signaled a possible diplomatic opening to the standoff when he told NBC News that Tehran would be willing to return to the negotiating table if Trump lifts the sanctions.
“Once those sanctions are lifted, then … the room for negotiation is wide open,” he said in an interview that aired Monday evening.
Tensions between Washington and Tehran have escalated in recent weeks as Trump called off a military strike at last month in retaliation for Iran shooting down an unmanned US surveillance drone.
The US has also accused of Iran of attacking two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman in an effort to disrupt international shipping in the region.
With Post wires
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