Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says it is up to US President Donald Trump to decide when to redress his mistake of leaving the 2015 nuclear deal signed between the Islamic Republic and major world powers.
In a post on his official Twitter account on Friday, Zarif directly addressed Trump, with a screenshot of his Tweet on the release of Michael White, a US citizen who had been sentenced to prison in Iran since 2018 for “security crimes” and in a lawsuit brought by “private plaintiffs.”
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi said in a statement on Thursday night that White was released after satisfying the plaintiffs in respect to the cause of action while being granted “Islamic mercy for his other crimes.”
Mousavi also confirmed media reports that the United States has released Dr. Majid Taheri, an Iranian physician, after spending over a year in jail on false charges.
In his tweet, Trump said it is “very exciting” that Michael arrived home, adding, “Thank you to Iran. Don’t wait until after US election to make the big deal. I’m going to win. You’ll make a better deal now!”
The Iranian foreign minister responded to the US president’s remarks and said Tehran and Washington have “achieved humanitarian swap despite your subordinates’ efforts.”
“And we had a deal when you entered office (in January 2017),” Zarif said referring to the nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries, including the United States.
“Iran & other JCPOA participants never left the table. Your advisors—most fired by now—made a dumb bet,” the top Iranian diplomat pointed out.
Tensions between Iran and the United States have been extremely tense since President Trump decided in 2018 to unilaterally withdraw his country from the international nuclear agreement and reinstated the sanctions that the agreement had lifted, in defiance of the fact that the accord has been endorsed by United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231.
Under Washington’s pressure, the three European signatories to the JCPOA — France, Britain and Germany — have so far failed to fulfill their contractual obligation to protect Tehran’s business interests against the sanctions.
In response, Iran began last May to gradually reduce its commitments as part of its legal rights under the JCPOA to both retaliate for Washington’s departure and prompt the European trio to respect their obligations towards Tehran.
The country has so far taken five steps away from the deal under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), but says its countermeasures are reversible if the other parties begin to fulfill their side of the agreement.
Iran confirms Zarif’s talks with ex-US envoy to UN over White’s release
The spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry also confirmed on Friday that Zarif had a meeting with Bill Richardson, a former US ambassador to the United Nations, over the American prisoner’s release.
According to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), Mousavi said Zarif and Richardson had discussed White’s release “months ago.”
“We have always responded positively to and welcomed humanitarian efforts that will lead to the release of Iranian hostages in the United States and elsewhere,” Mousavi said.