Fresh off his trip to France, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif had a simple message for the European powers when it comes to what Tehran wants in order to cease provocations and revert back to complying with the terms of the nuclear deal.
“We just want to be in a position to sell oil and get our money”, he told the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, in an interview conducted in Tehran on Sunday. If the remaining parties to the nuclear deal can guarantee that, Iran will be back in full compliance with the accord “within hours”, he said.
On Monday, in a joint press conference with Emmanuel Macron, Donald Trump said he’d be willing to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani under the right circumstances, but threatened Iran with “violent force” if the country persisted in malign activities including taking steps to pursue a nuclear weapon.
Zarif went on to tell Sueddeutsche Zeitung that if Iran isn’t allowed to sell its oil, “the third phase [of non-compliance] begins early next month”.
“Our problem is not with the US, but with the remaining parties to the nuclear agreement”, he went on to say, an allusion to what Tehran sees as Europe’s obligation to abide by the terms of the agreement despite America’s withdrawal.
Iran’s oil exports have obviously been crippled by US sanctions (see the breakdown in the visual), and a bid by the European powers to get a special purpose vehicle (Instex) designed to facilitate trade with Tehran up and running has been bedeviled by US threats and skepticism from Iran that the SPV cannot process large crude transactions.
Meanwhile, Iran’s state-controlled Press TV is out reporting that Zarif declined a proposal from Macron to negotiate Tehran’s highly contentious missile program. Unsurprisingly, the foreign minister also demurred when pressed on Iran’s regional activities, including, one assumes, its support for proxies Hezbollah and the Houthis.
As far as a proposed $15 billion credit line (Macron’s idea, apparently), Tehran would consider reversing recent breaches of the nuclear accord in the event Europe provides the funding.
Finally, Press TV said any discussions directly with the US would be contingent on Trump rejoining the nuclear deal and lifting the sanctions.