Defense

Iran: Negotiations possible on ballistic missiles if Trump lifts sanctions

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif indicated in a new interview that negotiations between the U.S. and Tehran were possible if President Trump lifts sanctions on the country. 

Zarif told NBC Nightly News in an interview that aired Monday that the opportunity to negotiate is "wide open" if the U.S. removes a series of sanctions it has placed on the country since 2017. 

"Once those sanctions are lifted, then ... the room for negotiation is wide open," he said.

Zarif blamed the U.S. for undermining diplomatic efforts by pulling out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal last year. 

"It is the United States that left the bargaining table. And they're always welcome to return," Zarif said.

Trump walked away from the agreement, which curtailed Iran's nuclear program in exchange for easing U.S. and international sanctions. The president called the Obama-era accord the "worst deal ever," saying it granted Iran too many concessions and neglected to curb the country's ballistic missile program.

Tensions between the two countries have flared since the Trump administration pulled out of the deal, but have escalated particularly in recent weeks. Iran announced earlier this month that it would increase its uranium enrichment and stockpiles; a nuclear monitor confirmed earlier this month that Iran had surpassed enrichment levels agreed to in the deal. 

Zarif told NBC News that the country, however, did not want a nuclear weapon. 

"Had we been interested in developing nuclear weapons, we would have been able to do it long time ago," he said.

The foreign minister also told NBC that despite tensions between Washington and Tehran, he did not believe the president is looking for war.

"I do not believe that President Trump wants war. But I believe that people are around him who wouldn't mind," he said. "But I don't think they'll succeed because at the end of the day, I think prudence will prevail. People know that Iran is a big, proud country. And we will not take a military attack lightly."

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