This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
U.S. President Donald Trump says he is prepared to talk to Iran but that there was always a chance of U.S. military action against Tehran.
“So Iran is a place that was extremely hostile when I first came into office,” Trump who is on a state visit to Britain, told ITV television on June 5. “They were a terrorist nation number one in the world at that time and probably maybe are today.”
Asked if he thought military action might be needed, he said: “There’s always a chance. Do I want to? No. I’d rather not. But there’s always a chance.”
He said, when asked, that he was prepared to talk to Iranian President Rohani: “Yeah of course. I would much rather talk.”
President Trump says he is prepared to talk to Iranian President Rouhani, but added “there’s always a chance” the US would need to take military action. https://t.co/H6o4tDoLP6
— NBC News (@NBCNews) June 5, 2019
Trump’s comments come amid heightened tensions between Iran and the United States and its allies in the Persian Gulf.
Washington a year ago withdrew from a landmark 2015 nuclear agreement between world powers and Iran that curbed the country’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.
Trump argued that the terms on the accord were not tough enough to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons and did not address the country’s missile program or its support for militants in the region.
Since then, Washington has reimposed sanctions, stepped up its rhetoric, and beefed up its military presence in the Middle East, citing ” imminent threats” from Iran.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on June 5 that Tehran would not be “deceived” by Trump’s offer of negotiations and would not give up its missile program.
“This political trick will not deceive Iranian officials and the Iranian nation,” Khamenei said in a speech broadcast on Iranian television.