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EghtesadOnline: The United States "shot itself in the foot" by pulling out of the nuclear accord with Iran, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said, adding that the burden falls on US President Donald Trump to ease tensions between the two countries.

Zarif, in an interview on Wednesday with Bloomberg Television in New York, said Iran did not leave the negotiating table. 

"It was the United States which abruptly decided to leave the negotiating table. They can come back." 

He also expressed skepticism over renegotiating the agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, to include talks on Iran's missile program, Financial Tribune reported.

"You don't buy a horse twice," he said. 

Zarif suggested that President Hassan Rouhani's government is drawing lessons from Trump's threats against Mexico over trade and immigration, and that it was clear to Tehran that Washington would keep asking for more even if the two parties were to eventually strike a new deal. 

"After renegotiating NAFTA, he raised a new demand and he tried to push Mexicans into giving in a bit more," Zarif said of Trump's recent threats to impose new trade penalties over undocumented border crossings. 

"So he always believes, it seems, that 'What's mine is mine, and what's yours is negotiable'."

And while maintaining that Iran has no plans to build nuclear weapons, Zarif said Iran already had engaged far more seriously with the US than North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ever has, only to get burned.

"We worked out not a two-page document, but a 150-page document," he said, comparing the 2015 Iran nuclear accord with last year's vague declaration between Trump and Kim in Singapore, which analysts say has not produced any tangible results.



No "Photo Opportunity"

The senior diplomat said Iran has no interest in a high-profile summit for the sake of show—such as a hypothetical meeting with Trump at the president's Mar-a-Lago resort—and is waiting to see what the US is prepared to do to restart discussions.

Asked whether he, as foreign minister, would accept such an invitation, Zarif said, "It's not the question of a photo opportunity; it's the question of moving forward." 

Zarif rejected the idea that Iran is waiting for next year's US election to put a Democratic president in office, who might be open to reentering the nuclear deal.

"No country in their right mind would make their foreign policy based on results they don't have any control over," he said.



Regional Turmoil 

Addressing US accusations that Tehran fuels instability across the Middle East, Zarif said the primary culprits for regional turmoil are its rivals Saudi Arabia and the UAE, who buy billions of dollars in US weapons.

He also noted that under no circumstances could Iran give up its missiles, given the arms buildup by its enemies in the region.

The official said Iran is capable of shutting the Strait of Hormuz—a crucial choke-point for oil flows—but does not want to do it.

"We certainly have the ability to do it, but we certainly don’t want to do it because the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf are our lifeline," he said.

“It has to be secured. We play a big role in securing it, but it has to be secure for everybody." 



People's Empowerment

Addressing the Ministerial Meeting of the UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in New York on Wednesday, Zarif said the Islamic Republic has made "significant" progress in people's empowerment and equality despite "huge impediments caused by unlawful unilateral sanctions".

"Twenty-seven percent of faculty members, 50% of college students and 37% of medical doctors are currently women. At the decision-making level, there has been a 60% increase in appointments to ensure our goal that by 2020, 30% of national decision-makers are women," he added, according to a statement carried by IRNA's English service. 

Zarif said ending illiteracy and providing free public education have approached its full realization, and the literacy rate among Iranians is now at 97% of the population.

In addition, he criticized the US "economic terrorism" against Iran, stressing that Washington is "deliberately targeting innocent civilians to achieve illegitimate political objectives".

"The unlawful extraterritorial economic sanctions imposed on Iran by the United States in violation of Security Council Resolution 2231 represent the greatest threat to the achievement of sustainable development goals of Iran and many of our neighbors," he said.

Zrif reiterated that renewed commitment to multilateralism and global solidarity is urgently needed.


Iran Mohammad Javad Zarif Donald Trump Trump nuclear accord Foreign Minister Ease Tensions Onus on Trump