“America should understand that … it should distance itself from warmongers,” Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted Rouhani as saying on Wednesday, without mentioning Bolton’s name.
“Iran’s policy of resistance will not change as long as our enemy continues to put pressure on Iran,” said Rouhani.
Reporting from Tehran, Al Jazeera’s Dorsa Jabbari said the Iranian officials “don’t really see a major change” in the US policy towards Iran with the departure of Bolton, who was one of the strongest advocates of a hard line towards the Middle Eastern country.
Bolton’s sacking by President Donald Trump raises the possibility of talks between the two countries after more than a year of escalating tensions.
The tensions began with the US pulling out of an international accord between Iran and the world powers, under which Tehran accepted curbs on its nuclear programme in return for access to world trade.
“The US is trying to get Iran to come back to the table after they walked away from the deal. They have since implemented a series of sanctions that Iran has called ‘economic terrorism’,” said Jabbari.
The US has followed what Tehran calls a policy of “maximum pressure”, including sanctions aimed at halting Iranian oil exports, saying its ultimate aim is to push Tehran for talks on a new, tougher deal.
In an effort to protect the nuclear deal, France has proposed giving Iran a multibillion-dollar credit line which would shield it from some of the impact of US sanctions, although any such deal would require the Trump administration’s tacit approval.
Meeting with ‘no preconditions’
Immediately after Bolton’s departure, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday that Trump could meet Rouhani at an upcoming United Nations meeting with “no preconditions”.
However, Iran’s envoy to the UN, Majid Takhteravanchi, said Bolton’s departure did not change its position that there will be no talks until the economic sanctions are lifted.
“The departure of … Bolton from President Donald Trump’s administration will not push Iran to reconsider talking with the US,” Iran’s IRNA news agency quoted Takhteravanchi.
His comments came after the US on Tuesday announced sanctions on a “wide range of terrorists and their supporters”, including Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.
Reacting to the move, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif derided the US for ordering the new sanctions on the country despite Bolton’s departure.
As the world—minus 3 or 2 panicked cohorts—was breathing a sigh of relief over ouster of #B_Team‘s henchman in the White House, Pompeo & Mnuchin declared further escalation of #EconomicTerrorism against Iran.
Thirst for war—maximum pressure—should go with the warmonger-in-chief. pic.twitter.com/im8gXJIxEn
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) September 11, 2019
Zarif has often said that a “B-team” that includes Bolton could goad Trump into a conflict with Tehran.
Iranian officials also accused the US and Israel of “undue pressure” over its nuclear programme and warned it could be “counterproductive” to cooperation with the UN’s nuclear watchdog.
Tehran’s ambassador to the International Atomic Agency (IAEA), Kazem Gharib Abadi, told a meeting of the agency’s board of governors that recent statements by US officials and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu amounted to “a US-Israeli plot” to put pressure on the agency and its inspection activities in Iran.
Abadi told reporters that Tehran “interprets these acts … as undue pressure on the agency” and that any attempt to “put the agency under pressure would be counterproductive”.
“Absolutely, Iran will make its own reactions to these pressures,” he added, without specifying what they would be.
The dispute centres on the IAEA calling on Iran earlier this week to “respond promptly” to the agency’s questions.
While the agency itself has not called Iran’s cooperation inadequate, the US has said there are “questions about possible undeclared nuclear activities”.
Iran has abandoned three sets of commitments relating to its nuclear programme which were laid out in the deal, and on Wednesday, President Rouhani said further such measures could be taken “if essential and necessary”.
Iran has already broken the limits laid down in the accord for stockpiling enriched uranium as well as the level of enrichment.
When asked whether the enrichment level could rise further, Abadi said: “At this stage, it is not a matter of consideration.”
On Saturday, Iran began installing advanced centrifuges to enrich uranium at a faster rate, its third step in reducing commitments under the 2015 deal.
Asked how much uranium Iran intended to produce, Abadi said Iran would do so “to the extent that the country is in need”.