Seeking to humiliate the United States after it abandoned the 2015 JCPOA and reinstated crippling sanctions, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani made public prior U.S. efforts to restart negotiations during statements made on Tuesday.
Rouhani claimed the U.S. approached Tehran 11 times in order to begin negotiations afresh over a period of the last two years. Rouhani confidently noted that all of these overtures were firmly rejected by Iran.
As part of Trump's promise to scrap the Obama brokered nuclear deal, which he formally backed out of last May, he said he would negotiate the whole thing anew from the ground up.
Rouhani touted the failed attempts as a major Iranian victory: “If you think America is victorious, know that today Iran is victorious and Trump has been defeated,” he said said in comments reported by the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) news agency.
“Last year America requested negotiations eight times directly and this year three times indirectly which we did not accept on the basis of the dignity of the people,” Rouhani added. However, he did not detail precisely what was on the table or which aspects of the deal would be renegotiated.
Notably Trump had unexpectedly stated last July that he's open to meeting President Rouhani "without preconditions". He had stated, “If they want to meet, we’ll meet,” at a moment when relations were quickly worsening.
Meanwhile also on Tuesday Iran used the opportunity of Qatar quitting OPEC to slam the organization, saying "OPEC has problems," and and that "the reasons for Qatar’s exit from the organization must be examined," according to separate statements by Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh.
On Monday, just hours after the conclusion of the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires, Qatar announced that, after more than 55 years of membership, it would be leaving the bloc effective Jan. 1. Qatar's departure has been widely seen as a swipe against Saudi Arabia at a sensitive moment when Riyadh is trying to make a show of OPEC unity amid an oil price slide.
Qatar, of course, has every reason to be angry with the Saudis. A blockade against Qatari exports remains intact following the GCC crisis of summer 2017. And just like then, when we pointed out that the "real reason for the Qatar crisis was natural gas", so the Qataris have teased that they are leaving OPEC to "focus on LNG".
While the GCC has unraveled over the past year, Qatar has taken steps to strengthen ties with Saudi arch-enemy Qatar, after it first announced the restoration of ties back in August 2017.
So while Iran's economy continues to ache with its energy sector most heavily targeted by US-led sanctions, and with the White House vowing to see Iran's energy exports taken down to zero, Tehran is clinging to the few diplomatic victories that it can, though none of this will help it in the near term.