The Foreign Minister of Iran Javad Zarif spoke out in an interview Monday night about the Iran nuclear deal, saying Iran is considering talks with President Donald Trump over ballistic missiles.
Trump threatened to impose more severe sanctions on Iran on July 10. Zarif responded Monday night with a proposal of his own: The U.S. must stop selling weapons to Persian Gulf allies for Iran to discuss Tehran’s ballistic missile plan, as it is pushing the region to the brink of explosion, Zarif told NBC. The allies include the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
“These are American weaponry that is going into our region, making our region ready to explode,” Zarif told NBC in the interview. “So if they want to talk about our missiles, they need first to stop selling all these weapons, including missiles, to our region.”
Iran spent much less on arms last year in comparison to other Middle Eastern nations, according to Zarif. Iran spent $16 billion last year, but the UAE spent $22 billion and Saudi Arabia spent $67 billion, most of the money going toward American-produced arms, he said.
Although tensions between the U.S. and Tehran are high, this could lead to a potential change in policy ever since Trump unilaterally withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal last year, a signature foreign policy deal of former President Barack Obama.
After the withdrawal, Trump reimposed strict sanctions on the nation, despite countries such as Britain, France and Germany remaining in the pact.
Iran announced its plans on July 7 to breach the uranium enrichment level under the 2015 deal, putting pressure on these remaining European nations to salvage the deal and offer Iran more lenient terms.
Trump Tweeted in response to the breach, warning Iran of potential consequences earlier in July.
Iran has just issued a New Warning. Rouhani says that they will Enrich Uranium to “any amount we want” if there is no new Nuclear Deal. Be careful with the threats, Iran. They can come back to bite you like nobody has been bitten before!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 3, 2019
Zarif said the two nations are not close to war despite heightened tensions after oil tanker attacks and Iran shooting down a U.S. military surveillance drone.
“We’re not close to military war, but as I’ve said before, sanctions target ordinary citizens, civilians… so it’s a war whose main target is not military personnel, but civilians,” Zarif said. (RELATED: Iran Stepping Back After Preparing To Attack US Forces).
“We are on the bargaining table, it is the United States who left the bargaining table and they are always welcome to return,” he added.
Currently, Iran’s ballistic missile program is under the control of the Iranian paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, which answers only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, according to USA Today.
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