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Iran's Rouhani Again Offers Talks If The US Returns To Its 'Obligations'

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani meets with representatives of the country's petrochemical industry in Tehran, December 30, 2019

Islamic Republic’s President Hassan Rouhani once again reiterated January 1 that his government is ready to negotiate with foreign parties over Iran’s nuclear program.

Iranian government officials have made the same offer before, demanding that the U.S. lifts sanctions it imposed in 2018 and return to the 2015 nuclear deal or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed between four Western powers, Russia, China and Iran.

Without mentioning the United States Rouhani said, “If the other side returns to the starting point of its obligations,” under the agreement, Tehran is ready to negotiate.

However, all major decisions in Iran are approved by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei who has forbidden any talks with the U.S. French, Japanese and other mediation efforts have not make a breakthrough.

Rouhani, who on December 31 had said Iran has lost $200 billion due to the sanctions, admitted that the country has not been able to sell $100 billion dollars of oil in 2018 and 2019.

Iran was exporting around 2.5 million barrels of oil a day before President Donald Trump quit the JCPOA and imposed the sanctions. However, since last May Iran’s crude exports have declined to around 300,000 barrels or less.

By speaking of the lost oil revenues, Rouhani described the Iran’s economic situation as “difficult”.

The United States demands a more solid nuclear agreement that would eliminate the chance for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons and asks for Tehran to change its regional policies.

This week tensions rose further between Washington and Tehran as the U.S. bombed an Iraqi militia group controlled by Iran for firing rockets at bases housing U.S. personnel in Iraq. Later on December 31 the group staged an attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, which prompted Trump to issue a threat to Iran.