EghtesadOnline: Iran can discuss other issues with the West if the 2015 nuclear deal is fully implemented, President Hassan Rouhani said on Thursday, but ruled out talks over Tehran's missile program.
"First, the nuclear deal should be fully implemented, meaning that all sides should be committed to the agreement. Then we can talk about other issues," the president said during a news conference in New York when asked if Iran is ready to negotiate with the US and other western powers about non-nuclear issues, the president’s website reported.
The Tehran-Washington confrontation has ratcheted up since last year, when US President Donald Trump withdrew from Iran's nuclear deal with major powers, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and reimposed sanctions to force Iran to renegotiate the pact.
Trump wants to go beyond the deal to persuade the Islamic Republic to further curb its nuclear program, halt its ballistic missile work and alter its regional policies, Financial Tribune reported.
But Rouhani said Iran's defensive missile program is non-negotiable, adding that the United States and European countries, who are major exporters of weapons to the Middle East, are in no position to criticize Tehran's missile activities.
He also reiterated Iran's official stance that it will not hold talks with the United States unless it lifts the sanctions.
"The United States should opt for the policy of dialogue and logic, which would serve its own interests and those of the world," the president said, adding that talks with America are possible if it removes its "wrong preconditions", including its "maximum pressure" policy and sanctions.
Asked about the prospects of a swap of US and Iranian prisoners, Rouhani said Iran remains open to reciprocal releases of foreign prisoners with the US.
He noted that Iran had held talks with Washington over the issue in the past and released from prison a Lebanese businessman with US permanent residency.
"After his release, Americans thanked us but failed to reciprocate. Therefore, the ball is in the Americans' court now," he said.
In addition, the president said Iran would vote for the United Nations headquarters to be moved out of New York if given an opportunity.
"If we are ever asked, we will vote for the UN headquarters to be transferred to a … country that does not have the narrow viewpoints that we have been witnessing," he told reporters, mentioning a number of instances of Iranians being banned from entering the US.
On Wednesday, Trump took steps to bar senior Iranian officials and their immediate family from entering the United States as immigrants or non-immigrants, according to Reuters.
Yemen Ceasefire Helpful
Rouhani also urged countries who have blamed Iran for the recent attack on Saudi oil facilities to provide proof for the allegations.
The unprecedented attack was claimed by Yemen's Houthi group, which has been battling a Saudi-led military coalition.
The president said the issue of Yemen is the main sticking point in relations between Tehran and Riyadh.
"If a ceasefire is declared in Yemen, our issues with Saudi Arabia could be resolved at a faster pace," he declared.