Addressing a weekly cabinet session on Wednesday, Rouhani thanked French President Emmanuel Macron for his efforts to mediate talks between Tehran and Washington on the sidelines of the recent meeting of the UN General Assembly in New York.
“He did his best in those 48 hours, especially in the last 24 hours, and we were supportive. The one who prevented us from achieving a result was the White House. Neither Paris nor Tokyo and other countries are to blame. All parties, along with Iran, tried hard,” Rouhani said.
Trump said in private messages to Europeans he was ready, but he publicly vowed to increase sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran, Rouhani noted.
“During the 24-hour period, when the political developments and diplomatic negotiations had peaked, the US president explicitly announced in two occasions – once in his UN General Assembly address and at the global level, and once in another occasion – that he wanted to increase sanctions,” he said.
“I told European friends which part should we accept? Should we believe what you say – that the US is ready – or the US president’s words who has explicitly announced twice in 24 hours he is looking for more sanctions?”
The Europeans did not have any clear answer, and insisted that Trump was ready despite the rhetoric, Rouhani said.
“How could one believe [their claims]? Our Iranian smartness and vigilance urged us not to be deceived by their private messages. As he himself admitted, Iran has not failed in any negotiations, and we wanted the same thing: we wanted negotiations that lead to success,” Rouhani said.
Macron’s Plan for Meeting
He referred to the general framework pursued by Europe for talks between Tehran and Washington, and said Iran accepted the plan with some modifications in its terms.
According to Rouhani, the plan could generally be acceptable to Iran as it urged Iran not to develop nuclear weapons and to contribute to regional peace and security, and on the other hand obliged the US to lift the sanctions and bans on Iran’s business activities, allow the country to immediately resume its oil exports, and be able to access its revenues.
“There were the principles that the French had raised with the Americans, and then raised with us. So what currently circulating in the world newspapers and propaganda, and expressed in some way by the French president, is true,” he noted.
“However, I did not at all agree with the terms of the plan, because they were wrong, and the French president said ‘alright, tell us the terms you want and our foreign ministers will arrive at a conclusion, and that will be used as the basis for talks.”
According to Rouhani, Iranian officials said in meetings with Europeans that even if Iran accepts the plan and its modifications are made, “with what assurance are we going to take part in the meeting” with the US.
P4+1 Can Turn into P5+1
“During this period of time, we managed to foil the plot they had hatched, and to emphasize Iran does not escape negotiation, and is at the negotiating table. An important development in this regard was that everyone had gathered to re-form the P5+1 group of countries, which anti-Iran groups, the Israeli regime, the regional reactionary, and the White House claimed is dead,” Rouhani said.
“All the insistence, talks, and contacts were aimed at forming the P5+1 once again, and we said we were OK with that under appropriate circumstances, and on the condition that those who harmed the P5+1 return to the group’s norms.”
“The P5+1 was based on the commitment of a deal, and they should move towards that. If they do so, there’s no problem. The P4+1 convened in New York; that could turn into the P5+1 as well,” he noted.
“When someone says the P5+1, it means the JCPOA; if he admits he agrees with the JCPOA and that he has made a mistake, that would become the P5+1,” Rouhani said.
Doors Still Open
Rouhani said the road is still open, and the Europeans and others are making efforts despite the recent failure of talks in New York.
“The road is not blocked; the doors are open if the Iranian nation’s rights and their dignity are respected and they are ready to pay attention to the nation’s honour,” Rouhani said, adding that there is no dead-end and Iran will continue its path.
Rouhani said it was important to Americans that the issue turns into a big news in the media, and that would help them change the US’ domestic politics.
However, he stressed, it does not matter to Iran what their intention is. “To us, our national interests matter, and the principle is national interests, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the Iranian nation.”
“I spared no effort to protect the rights of the Iranian nation, and if I had received the minimum – not maximum – assurance that the negotiations would result in something that served the Iranian nation and protected the nation’s dignity, I would have definitely done it,” he noted.
“As I have already announced as the representative of the Iranian nation, and I repeat it now, I’m ready for any sacrifice that would result in securing the rights and welfare of the people,” he added.
He said whatever Iran has is the result of the nation’s resistance. “If so many European countries, one after another, come to visit the Iranian nation’s representative, if we spent all the time we had in those +70 hours to meet them and still we didn’t have enough time to meet five or six of them, that’s because of the Iranian nation and their resistance.”
“Had the Iranian nation not resisted, no one would come to see us, no one would insist. No one would come to say ‘we’ve found a solution’. If it wasn’t for our Armed Forces’ show of national power to defend the country, and if we had stood idle and look at their drone intruding into our country’s airspace, we wouldn’t have the current position,” he added.