22:25 GMT03 March 2021
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    US President Donald Trump said earlier in the day that there’s no indication that Iran is preparing to take action against American interests in the Middle East, but added that any provocation would be met “with great force”.

    In a televised speech, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said that the US administration is made up of “novice politicians with naïve ideas”, claiming that his American counterpart Donald Trump had scaled back on his threats after military aides advised him against a war with Iran.

    “Right after threatening Iran, they were forced to say they do not seek a war. Iranians will never bow to a bully”, he said, adding that the unity of the Iranian nation had changed Trump’s decision to wage war.

    The country’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, in the meantime, told CNN that Iran would not return to the negotiating table unless the Trump administration shows respect for Tehran by honouring its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the 2015 nuclear deal.

    "We are not willing to talk to people who have broken their promises. Iran never negotiates with coercion. You cannot threaten any Iranian and expect them to engage. The way to do it is through respect, not through threats", he said.

    The foreign minister continued by blasting Washington for sending a carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the Gulf, and added that the US was playing a “very, very dangerous game” by increasing its military presence in the region.

    “Having all these military assets in a small waterway is in and of itself prone to accident, particularly when you have people who are interested in accidents. So extreme prudence is required and the United States is playing a very, very dangerous game”, he said.

    While noting that there “will be painful consequences if there is an escalation”, Zarif stressed that the country is “not interested” in adding to already existing tensions.

    Earlier in the day, Trump told reporters that Iran has been “very hostile”, but noted that he was interested in engaging in talks with Tehran when it’s “ready”.

    “We have no indication that anything has happened or will happen, but if it does, it will be met obviously with great force. We'll have no choice”, he said.

    Tensions between Iran and the United States flared up last year after Washington unilaterally withdrew from the 2015 nuclear agreement and reinstated all sanctions against Tehran.

    Exactly a year after the US pull-out – on 8 May 2019 – Rouhani announced that Iran would partially suspend its obligations under the deal, having given the five remaining signatories – France, Russia, the UK, Germany, and China – a 60-day deadline to take measures towards ensuring Tehran’s interests amid US sanctions.

    Washington upped the ante two weeks ago by deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the Gulf to send a “clear and unmistakable message” to Iran. Most recently, Trump fired off a tweet in which he wrote, “if Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran”.

    In response, Zarif publicly rebuked Trump on his own Twitter account, saying that “economic terrorism and genocidal taunts won’t ‘end Iran’”.


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    sanctions, bully, threat, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran nuclear deal, nuclear deal, Javad Zarif, Donald Trump, Hassan Rouhani, US, Iran
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