President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday that Tehran favors talks with
Washington but the United States must first lift sanctions it imposed on the country.
“Iran favors talks and negotiations and, if the US really wants to talk, before anything else it should lift all sanctions,” Rouhani said in remarks aired live on state television.
Rouhani, speaking at the foreign ministry after meeting with his top diplomat, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said Iran was ready for talks regardless of whether or not the US was party to a landmark nuclear deal.
“Whether they want to come into the JCPOA or not, it’s up to them,” said Rouhani, referring to the 2015 nuclear deal known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
However, the Iranian president also warned: “Peace with Iran is the mother of all peace; war with Iran is the mother of all wars,” presumably hinting that shipping might not be safe in the Strait of Hormuz, where recent oil tanker seizures were reported and where approximately one-fifth of the world's oil passes through.
In July, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards seized British tanker Stena Impero near the Strait of Hormuz for alleged marine violations, two weeks after British forces captured an Iranian oil tanker near Gibraltar accused of violating sanctions on Syria.
“A strait for a strait. It can't be that the Strait of Hormuz is free for you and the Strait of Gibraltar is not free for us,” Rouhani said.
Tensions between Iran and its arch-foe the United States have soared since Trump announced last year that the US was withdrawing from the deal and began reimposing sanctions against Iran.
The nuclear deal set limits on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the removal of punitive economic sanctions.