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Trump ready to meet Rouhani without pre-conditions: Mnuchin

12 September 2019

Even as the removal of national security hardliner John Bolton triggered speculation that Trump might soften his approach to Iran, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo joined Israel in alleging "possible undeclared nuclear activities" by Tehran, and the U.S. administration imposed new terrorist designations on leaders of some groups linked to the Islamic republic.

President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday that the United States would fail with its "warmongering" and warned that Iran was ready to further reduce its nuclear commitments in response. "John Bolton possesses superb situational awareness skills and a first-rate analytical intellect on national-security priorities".

People familiar with the matter report that Bolton, a well-known Iran hawk was strongly opposed to that approach on Iran and voiced his displeasure to President Trump.

With Bolton out and Trump's tone softening -however slightly- the odds of a negotiation with Iran are likely higher than at any point since Trump took office in 2017.

Trump on Wednesday warned Iran against further uranium enrichment but left open the possibility the USA could lift sanctions to pave the way to a meeting with Rouhani. "No problem with meeting".

France's President Emmanuel Macron, left, meets his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani in New York, September 19, 2017. Difference of opinion over Iran seems to have been the last straw for Trump.

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"This agreement must include a specific, rigorous and permanent inspection mechanism for all sites, including military sites, in Iran with a mechanism to re-impose sanctions quickly and effectively in the event of Iran's violation of the agreement", he said. "His departure, in turn, eliminates at least one institutional roadblock to such dialogue on the US side".

Bolton's exit also comes a week after special US envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt announced his upcoming resignation.

Bolton's departure also comes amid speculation about Trump potentially meeting Rouhani during the upcoming U.N. General Assembly this month in NY.

Given the two major departures of pro-Israel figures, questions remain as to the direction of the administration.

Toossi added that Bolton's firing was a "good sign", but a change in personnel would be meaningless without a change in policy to go along with it.

Brodsky mentioned that he reached out to the White House team dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian peace process following Bolton's forced resignation.

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Prince Abdullah underscored the importance of a comprehensive worldwide agreement on Iran's nuclear program, ensuring that it should prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons of any sort.

Regarding Iran, Brodsky said that "it is too early to gauge the impact".

He stressed the need to work on everything that can reduce the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, so as to ensure worldwide peace and security.

"Iran's policy of resistance will not change as long as our enemy continues to put pressure on Iran", said Rouhani. He recognized that now was not the time for the administration to take its foot off of the gas.

But the president's desire to end America's long-standing military conflicts and strike deals with longtime USA adversaries, such as Iran and North Korea, exposed sharp differences between the two men that lingered under the surface. "Would it turn into something resembling the relationship between the president and North Korea's Kim Jong-un?" Would it be based on substance or optics? There are often times when America's adversaries don't care about what the USA wants; they care about what they want, and they'll wage war whether we want it or not.

"The Iranians will be happy that Bolton is fired, but I don't think it's sufficient", Slavin told MEE.

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Now the Washington-based member of the team is out of the picture - and Zarif said on Wednesday that "the world. was breathing a sigh of relief over [the] ouster of #B_Team's henchman in the White House".

Trump ready to meet Rouhani without pre-conditions: Mnuchin