US President Donald Trump said on Monday a deal with Iran on its nuclear programme was possible, crediting economic sanctions for curbing activities Washington has said are behind a spate of attacks in West Asia.
“I really believe that Iran would like to make a deal, and I think that’s very smart of them, and I think that’s a possibility to happen,” Trump said during a news conference with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo. “It has a chance to be a great country with the same leadership,” Trump said. “We aren’t looking for regime change – I just want to make that clear. We are looking for no nuclear weapons.”
In Tehran, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iran was not seeking nuclear weapons, which its supreme leader had banned in an edict, adding on Twitter that US policies were hurting the Iranian people and causing regional tensions. “Actions—not words—will show whether or not that’s @realDonaldTrump’s intent,” Zarif said.
President Hassan Rouhani said in October the United States was seeking “regime change” in Iran, adding that the current US administration was the most hostile that the Islamic Republic had faced in its four decades.
Tensions have risen between Iran and the United States after this month’s attack on oil tankers in the Gulf region.
Washington, a firm backer of Tehran’s regional rival Saudi Arabia, has blamed the attacks on Iran, which denies the accusations. The United States has deployed a carrier strike group and bombers in the Persian Gulf and announced plans to deploy 1,500 troops to West Asia, prompting fears of a conflict.
Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton said on Saturday that the United States had “deep and serious” intelligence on threats posed by Iran, without providing details.