TEHRAN (Dispatches) – Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday urged the U.S. to "put warmongers aside” after the dismissal of John Bolton as national security adviser, with tensions remaining high in the Persian Gulf.
Speaking at a cabinet meeting, Rouhani further urged Washington to "abandon warmongering and its maximum pressure policy” on Iran and said Tehran would cut its commitments to a 2015 nuclear deal further if necessary.
"The United States should understand that militancy has no profit and must abandon its policy of maximum pressure on Iran ... Iran's commitments to the nuclear deal is proportional to other parties and we will take further steps if necessary," he said.
Rouhani has called the use of faster centrifuges a "third step” away from the nuclear deal. On Wednesday, he said that "if necessary, we will take other steps in future”.
"Iran’s policy of resistance will not change as long as our enemy (the United States) continues to put pressure on Iran,” said Rouhani.
Rouhani’s remarks came as Iran again rejected the possibility of a meeting between him and U.S. counterpart Donald Trump, after the White House signaled it was open to such an encounter.
Two of Trump's top lieutenants on Tuesday indicated he was ready to meet the Iranian president without preconditions, after the U.S. leader sacked Bolton.
But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin stressed the United States would maintain its campaign of "maximum pressure" against the Islamic Republic.
Iran's representative at the United Nations reiterated that a meeting could take place only if Washington ends its "economic terrorism" by lifting all of its sanctions against Tehran.
The Iranian envoy said any meeting must also be held in the framework of the group of major powers that negotiated the 2015 nuclear deal.
"As long as the U.S. government's economic terrorism and such cruel sanctions are imposed on the Iranian people, there is no room for negotiations," he was quoted as saying by IRNA.
The diplomat said Trump's decision to dismiss Bolton -- a hardliner accused of pushing Trump towards war against Iran -- was a matter for the Americans.
"The removal of John Bolton is an internal affair and we don't take stands on domestic issues," said Takht-Ravanchi.
Asked about the impact of Bolton's sacking on long-fraught relations between Iran and the United States, he said it was "too soon" to make any judgments.
"Whether the extremist policy of the U.S. changes or not depends on various factors in US foreign policy," he told ISNA.
Bolton is a controversial figure closely linked to the 2003 invasion of Iraq and other aggressive U.S. foreign policy decisions.
He had been seen as one of the main driving forces in the White House's muscular approach to Iran, North Korea and Venezuela among others.
An Iranian government spokesman on Wednesday called Bolton "the symbol of America’s hawkish policies and its animosity toward Iran”, but said his dismissal was an internal U.S. issue.
For his part, Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif again used Twitter to write about what he calls the #B_Team, which included Bolton, Zionist PM Benjamin Netanyahu, Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan, all hawks on Iran.
Zarif said "the world — minus 3 or 2 panicked cohorts — was breathing a sigh of relief” after Bolton’s ouster. "Thirst for war — maximum pressure — should go with the warmonger-in-chief,” Zarif wrote.
Other officials, however, urged caution.
Gen. Mohsen Rezaee, a commander in the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps and its former chief, said in a tweet: "We will not be deceived by the sacrificing of Bolton.”
Bolton was a longtime hard-liner on Iran who favored regime change and took money for speaking engagements from the anti-Iran Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO), a notorious terrorist group. Bolton famously wrote in 2015, before Iran’s nuclear deal was struck, an op-ed in The New York Times headlined: "To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.”
In Occupied Palestine, Zionist party leader Naftali Bennett said he was very worried about Bolton’s dismissal.
Speaking at the Maariv-Jerusalem Post conference on Wednesday, Bennett was asked how worried he was by these recent events. Bennett responded that he was "very” worried that Trump was seeking to come to terms with Iran.
"We should be very worried. Trump is obviously a big friend of Israel, but at the end of the day our interests are not identical, he has his interests we have our interests,” said Bennett.
"Our situation is much better than it should be, in Syria and Iraq. In Lebanon it is so-so. And with Iran, the situation is not far from lost but I am very, very troubled,” the former cabinet member said.