As Iran continues to up the ante on its nuclear program, reportedly stockpiling low-enriched uranium beyond the limitations outlined in the contentious 2015 nuclear deal, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said his country always will say "no" to bilateral talks with the United States.
“There have been a lot of offers for talks but our answer will always be negative,” he said Tuesday at a session of Parliament, the BBC reported.
However, Iran would be open to having multilateral talks if the U.S. agreed to scrap its economic penalties targeting Iran, Rouhani noted.
“If America lifts all of its sanctions -- I believe it does not matter whether it returns to the [nuclear deal]; what is important is the sanctions -- there still is a chance for America to attend meetings of the P5+1 like in the past,” Rouhani said. “But this will only be possible provided that it lifts all sanctions.”
In 2015, the P5+1 -- the U.S., the U.K., China, France and Russia, plus Germany -- penned a nuclear pact with Iran and the European Union. President Trump announced last year that the United States was leaving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which he called "the worst deal ever” for America, maintaining that Iran was violating the deal.
A United Nations atomic watchdog group last week released a report claiming Iran was in breach of the 2015 nuclear deal, enriching uranium to levels that could power the country's only nuclear power plant.
Trump has said the sanctions against Iran have been working, hurting the rogue nation's economy.
French President Emmanuel Macron has reportedly offered Iran a $15 billion line of credit to offset the country's financial woes due to sanctions, under the condition that Iran return to compliance with the 2015 deal, The New York Times reported Monday.
“If Europeans can purchase our oil or prepurchase it, and we can have access to our money, that will ease the situation and we can fully implement the deal,” Rouhani said Tuesday. “Otherwise we will take our third step.”
An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman did not give any details regarding such a “third step,” the BBC reported.
Rouhani last week walked back the idea of possible talks with Trump regarding the countries' nuclear impasse.
“Without the U.S.'s withdrawal from sanctions, we will not witness any positive development,” Rouhani said in a Friday speech. “If someone intends to make it as just a photo op with Rouhani, that is not possible.”
Trump had said during the close of the G-7 summit in France last month that there was a "really good chance" he and Rouhani could meet. Macron had tried to intervene at the G-7 summit and bring the nations together.
Since then, Iran officials have lashed out at the U.S. in retaliation of economic restrictions, saying to “stop nagging.”
“U.S. denied us means of defense: We built missiles & U.S. complains. U.S. denied us nuclear fuel: We made it & U.S. complains. Now U.S. engages in piracy & threats to prevent Iran from selling oil to traditional customers,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted Saturday. “Stop nagging [Secretary of State Mike Pompeo]: We will sell oil to any & all buyers.”
The Treasury Department had a day earlier announced it was sanctioning the Adrian Darya 1 oil tanker for “ultimately benefiting Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF).”
Rouhani added, “FM [Foreign Minister Zarif] designation indicates that [the] White House is frightened by his diplomatic capabilities. If they're serious [about] negotiations, who other than the FM can be their interlocutor? Zarif heads Islamic Republic's diplomacy & ably talks & negotiates on behalf of the entire nation.”
“The Iran sanctions have officially been cast,” Trump tweeted in August 2018. “These are the most biting sanctions ever imposed, and in November they ratchet up to yet another level. Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States. I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!”
Fox News' Vandana Rambaran and Ben Evansky contributed to this report.