- “In fact, I would like them to negotiate. It totally depends on them,” Trump tweeted.
- Defense Secretary Mark Esper had already advanced the White House position on Sunday, but without the conditions imposed by Trump.
- Trump's statement follows a week of escalating tensions in the Middle East, almost leading Tehran and Washington into open war.
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday night that he was open to negotiating a new nuclear deal with Iran, but the first step depends on the Iranian regime. His only conditions, as he made clear, are “no nuclear weapons and don’t kill protesters.” Trump tweeted, “National Security Adviser suggested today that sanctions & protests have Iran ‘choked off,’ will force them to negotiate. Actually, I couldn’t care less if they negotiate. Will be totally up to them but, no nuclear weapons and ‘don’t kill your protesters.”
The goal of stopping Iran from obtaining atomic weapons was already the goal of the previous agreement signed by Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, in 2015. “In fact, I would like them to negotiate. It totally depends on them,” Trump added on Twitter. The agreement proposed by Trump would replace the 2015 agreement, also agreed on by the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia, and China. This agreement, which the United States withdrew in 2018 as insufficient, allowed oversight of the Iranian nuclear program and limits on uranium enrichment to ensure there was no development of nuclear weapons. In return, Washington withdrew part of the economic sanctions on the country.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper had already advanced the White House position on Sunday, but without the conditions imposed by Trump, in an interview with CBS News. “We’re willing to sit down and discuss without precondition a new way forward, a series of steps by which Iran becomes a more normal country,” Secretary Esper said. Trump unilaterally stepped out of the deal in 2018 and revived the pre-deal economic sanctions. Shortly thereafter, he instituted new ones.
Tehran was not quiet. In one of the first signs of an escalation that could lead to open conflict, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) shot down an American drone in the Persian Gulf in June 2019. Trump narrowly avoided responding to the Persian Gulf country with America’s military might, calling off airstrikes at the last minute.
In September, Saudi Arabia’s state-owned Aramco refineries were attacked, causing the price of oil to soar. Iran denied taking part in the action, and the Houthi rebels, Tehran’s allies in Yemen, took responsibility. However, the United States and the Saudis laid the blame squarely on Iran. In the meantime, Iran has been gradually failing to meet its 2015 commitments of the agreement, but not completely leaving the agreement, as the United States has done. In order to renegotiate the agreement, the Iranian government places as a condition the removal of all the economic sanctions placed on the country.
Trump’s statement follows a week of escalating tensions in the Middle East, almost leading Tehran and Washington into open war. Just over a week ago, the leader of the Quds Force of the IRGC, Qasem Soleimani, was killed after a deliberate US drone attack in Baghdad. Soleimani was regarded as the second most powerful person in Iran, behind only the Supreme Leader. Days later, Iran attacked a base housing American and coalition troops with ballistic missiles.