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September 11, 2019

US 'warmongering' a failure, Iran says, as Bolton ousted


Wed, Sep 11, 2019

President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday that the United States' "warmongering" was a failure, as Iran welcomed the sacking of hawkish US national security adviser John Bolton.

Rouhani also dismissed the prospect of meeting President Donald Trump at a time his US administration is continuing to slap more crippling sanctions on the Islamic republic.

"The Americans must understand that bellicosity and warmongering don't work in their favour. Both... must be abandoned," Rouhani told his cabinet.

"The enemy imposed 'maximum pressure' on us. Our response is to resist and confront this," he said, referring to the US sanctions.

Arch-foes Tehran and Washington have been at loggerheads since May last year when Trump unilaterally withdrew from a 2015 nuclear deal and began reimposing the punitive measures.

Iran has riposted by scaling back its commitments to the accord, which gave it the promise of sanctions relief in return for curbs on its nuclear programme.

Trump tweeted his decision to dismiss Bolton on Tuesday.

It was a move an adviser to Iran's president, Hesameddin Ashena, hailed as a "clear sign of the defeat of America's maximum pressure strategy" against Tehran.

- 'Commitment for commitment' -

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Trump was willing to meet Rouhani without preconditions.

But Mnuchin stressed the US would maintain its "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran.

The idea of a Trump-Rouhani meeting was floated last month by French President Emmanuel Macron, who has been spearheading European efforts to de-escalate tensions.

Rouhani said in response that Iran was ready to comply with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action only if the Americans did so too.

"We have said many times that our policy... is one of peaceful (nuclear) technology, and that our approach in the JCPOA is commitment for commitment," he said.

"We have taken the third step... If it is essential and necessary in the future, we will take other steps."

Iran said on Saturday it was firing up advanced centrifuges to enrich uranium at a faster rate -- its third step back from the nuclear deal.

It had announced on July 1 that its enriched uranium stockpile had surpassed the deal's 300-kilogramme threshold, and a week later that it had exceeded a 3.67-percent cap on the purity of its stocks.

- 'Moustache removal means little' -

Iran's UN representative poured cold water on any talk of a Trump-Rouhani meeting.

Majid Takht-Ravanchi said a meeting could take place only if Washington ended its "economic terrorism" and that it would have to be held in the framework of the group of major powers that negotiated the nuclear deal.

"As long as the US government's economic terrorism and such cruel sanctions are imposed on the Iranian people, there is no room for negotiations," he said, quoted by state news agency IRNA.

The envoy said the dismissal of Bolton -- a hardliner accused of pushing Trump towards war against Iran -- was "an internal affair".

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif suggested little would change with Bolton's removal.

"As the world... was breathing a sigh of relief" over his ouster "Pompeo and Mnuchin declared further escalation of #EconomicTerrorism against Iran," he tweeted.

"Thirst for war -- maximum pressure -- should go with the warmonger-in-chief," he said, referring to Trump.

One analyst cast doubt on speculation Bolton's removal could boost the chances of a meeting happening at the UN General Assembly later this month.

"Such a meeting will not take place. The removal of a moustache person from the White House means little," tweeted Mohammad Marandi, head of the American studies department at Tehran University.

Meanwhile, Iran's envoy to the UN´s atomic watchdog rejected "undue pressure" from the US and Israel over his country's nuclear programme.

Kazem Gharib Abadi said recent US and Israeli statements amounted to "a US-Israeli plot" to put pressure on the agency and its inspection activities in Iran.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week accused Iran of operating a previously undisclosed site aimed at developing nuclear weapons and then destroying it after it was detected.

Gharib Abadi called the Israeli allegations "baseless" .