Donald Trump declined to rule out meeting with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani.
A short time after Rouhani’s statement, US officials announced new sanctions on Iran.
Iran has long been threatening to carry out a third step unless other parties to the deal offset the effect of US sanctions.
US President Donald Trump on Wednesday declined to rule out meeting with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani even as his administration piled more sanctions on Tehran. Asked at the White House whether he might meet with the Iranian leader at the United Nations, Trump responded: “Sure, anything is possible.” Rouhani had announced earlier Wednesday that Tehran was poised to take another step back from its commitments under a 2015 nuclear deal, from which the US withdrew from in May.
A short time after Rouhani’s statement, US officials announced new sanctions on Iran, this time targeting a shipping network it said was run by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard to smuggle oil.
Brian Hook, the State Department coordinator on Iran, also ruled out a French-proposed credit line that Tehran said could bring it back into full compliance with the 2015 deal curbing its nuclear program.
Earlier, President Hassan Rouhani said Iran will announce a new step in scaling back its nuclear commitments by Thursday despite a diplomatic push for relief from US sanctions. Iran and three European countries—Britain, France and Germany—have been engaged in talks to save a 2015 nuclear deal that has been unravelling since the US withdrew from it May last year. The efforts have been led by French President Emmanuel Macron, who has been trying to convince the US to offer Iran some sort of relief from crippling sanctions it has reimposed on the Islamic republic since its pullout.
"I don’t think that... we will reach a deal so we’ll take the third step and we will announce the details today or tomorrow,” Rouhani was quoted as saying Wednesday by the presidency website.
The Iranian president said the two sides were getting closer to an agreement on a way to resolve burning issues.
“If we had 20 issues of disagreement with the Europeans in the past, today there are three issues,” he said.
“Most of them have been resolved but we haven’t reached a final agreement.” Iran has hit back with countermeasures in response to the US withdrawal from the 2015 deal, which gave it relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear programme.
In July, it said it had increased its stockpile of enriched uranium to beyond the maximum set by the deal. It later announced it had exceeded a cap on the level of enrichment of its stocks.
Iran has long been threatening to carry out a third step by Friday unless other parties to the deal offset the effect of US sanctions in return for its continued compliance.