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Iran's Patience Runs Thin As Sanctions Bite And U.S. Forces Exercise Next Door

Sailors line up and watch Capt. William R. Reed, commander of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7, launch from the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in Arabian Sea, May 30, 2019.

Iranian politicians affiliated with various political factions have been speaking against negotiations with the United States in recent days. Some Iranian officials say there could be no talks with the United States until sanctions are lifted.

In one of the latest remarks in this regard, Iran's powerful hardliner Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raeesi has said on Monday June 3 that U.S, officials are "begging for negotiations" with Tehran.

Referring to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's remarks on Sunday about the United States' readiness to hold "talks with Iran without any preconditions," Raeesi said: "We see that U.S. official are begging to hold talks with Iran. This proves Supreme Leader [Khamenei's] insight and expertise," ISNA quoted him as saying, reminding that Khamenei has always called for resistance against America's reneging.

Stressing that "today it is America who needs to negotiate," Raeesi said that the United States will withdraw from its positions "if we insist on our principles."

President Hassan Rouhani had reacted Sunday evening to Pompeo's remarks on readiness for unconditional talks with Iran if Tehran "behaves like a normal nation." Rouhani said, "Those who have overturned the previous negotiating table should return to negotiations," adding that "Until then, we have no solution other than resisting and steadfastness."

Rouhani was referring to the U.S. pull-out from the nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018.

Pompeo, however, had added that the United States shall continue its policy of maximum pressure on Tehran until it returns to negotiations.

In another development the leader of the traditional conservative party, The Islamic Coalition Party, that enjoys grassroot support among Iranian businesses and in the Bazaars, said on Monday: "U.S. President Donald Trump is looking for a fool in Iran to hold negotiations with."

Badamchian, a former MP with strong links to Khamenei's office, added that "No one in President Hassan Rouhani's administration will be prepared to hold talks with America."

Meanwhile, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad zarif posted an emotionally charged video of a little boy in a tweet in which the boy's mother says as a result of U.S. sanctions, she cannot buy a new prosthetic leg for her son as he grows.

Describing U.S. sanctions as economic war, Zarif wrote: " EconomicTerrorism against Iran targets innocent civilians. Like this little boy, whose heartbroken mother can't get him prosthetic legs as he grows. They're sanctioned. This is @realDonaldTrump's "economic war". And war and talks—with or without preconditions—don't go together."

Following rising tensions in the Persian Gulf region, officials in the United States and Iran have called for holding talks, but U.S. wants unconditional talks and Iran insists on lifting sanctions first. Iran knows that negotiating now would mean the U.S. has the upper hand. This comes while Iran's threats and deployment of new U.S. forces in the region could potentially lead to an unwanted war any moment.

On Sunday, some of the U.S. forces deployed to the region took part in a limited exercise in the Arabian Sea.

While Iranian gunboats patrol the Persian Gulf and have been seen carrying missiles according to U.S. officials, on Monday USS Abraham Lincoln which is in the region but has not entered the Persian Gulf was host to groups of reporters some 200 miles (320 kilometers) off the coast of Oman in the Arabian Sea.

Aware of the sensitivity of the situation, Captain Putnam Browne, the commanding officer of the Lincoln, told The Associated Press: "You don't want to inadvertently escalate something."

Asked why the Lincoln hadn't gone into the Persian Gulf, Rear Adm. John F.G. Wade, the commander of the carrier's strike group, said that his forces could "conduct my mission wherever and whenever needed." However, he declined to further discuss his mission.

In late May, the White House ordered several B-52 bombers and other aircraft to fly to the region, as well as deploying 1500 more troops following attacks on international shipping which has been attributed to Iran by the U.S., Saudi Arabia and some Arab leaders.

While Saudi Arabia has been garnering support against Iran during the summits it held in Mecca over the weekend, Iran's regional ally, Lebanese Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah warned that any war against Iran will not remain limited to the Persian Gulf and "will burn Israel, Saudi Arabia and U.S. interests in the region," IRGC-linked Tasnim news agency reported him as saying.

In the meantime, Iran is losing patience as sanctions imposed on it following the U.S. pull-out from the nuclear deal (JCPOA) have paralized its economy, making oil exports and international banking almost impossible for Tehran.